A Tribute to Pat Franklin

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patfranklinPatricia Farrell Franklin passed away Oct. 14, 2012 at Ruby Memorial Hospital, Morgantown, WV.  She was critically injured the day before when struck by a pickup truck while crossing an intersection in Oakland, MD.  She was born May 11, 1941 in Washington, DC.  Her parents were Mr. and Mrs. James (Mary Alred) Farrell.  Pat grew up in the D.C. area and graduated from Falls Church (VA) High School in 1959 and William and Mary College in 1963.

She is survived by her husband of 48 years, Jay D. Franklin, children, Kimberly (Steve) Trundle of Falls Church, and Devin (Michelle Apland) Franklin, Lebanon, NY. Her first child, Dennis Franklin, passed away in 2008.  She had four grandchildren: Claire, Scott and Wyatt Trundle, and Cedar Franklin.

In addition to being a schoolteacher while her children were young, Pat was active in northern VA politics and community matters, including the League of Women Voters.  She took the passion she felt as an environmentalist, the skills she acquired as a civic activist, and the support of a loving family, and from her basement in 1991, founded the Container Recycling Institute, a non-profit organization which supports beverage container deposit laws and recycling programs.

patfranklinbikePat worked tirelessly to grow CRI from a shoestring operation to an internationally-recognized source of original information and analysis on beverge container recycling and wasting in the United States and Canada. For 15 years, Pat networked with hundreds of activists and legislators in dozens of states across the country—generously sharing information that was critical to campaigns to promote increased recycling initiatives. She spearheaded a series of Bottle Bill Summits, spoke at scores of recycling conferences, and was interviewed hundreds of times by members of the mainstream media as well as the trade press in both the solid waste and recycling industries. Pat was instrumental in getting then-Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont to sponsor a National Bottle Bill initiative, testifying before the Committee on the Environment and Public Works on Capitol Hill.  She also wrote the first edition of the groundbreaking report, “The 10-cent Incentive to Recycle,” founded two heavily trafficked recycling websites, and contributed articles and legislative testimony countless times.

Although Pat retired as Executive Director of CRI in 2007, her work lives on in the passage of a bottle bill in Hawaii; in bottle bill expansions in Connecticut, New York, and Oregon; and in the many interns and colleagues whose work she supported over the years. Her dream was that the nation would someday achieve zero beverage container waste.

In her retirement, Pat used her skills and passion to help support her son and daughter-in-law’s Flying Deer Nature Center--a year-round camp and educational center that teaches children of all ages to understand and love the wilderness. Pat contributed scholarship funds to aid economically disadvantaged youngsters, and devoted much time to recruitment and to organizing fundraisers and events.
She was a DC Area native but had retired with husband Jay to homes in Fernandina Beach, FL and Deep Creek Lake, MD.  Pat was an active tennis player who could hold her own with opponents in their 20’s. A month before her death, Pat was the oldest participant the 2012 SavageMan Triathlon at Deep Creek Lake State Park.  Riding the 40k bicycle segment, she finished eleven minutes faster than she did in 2011.  She raised 124% of goal for the triathlon’s “Win-The-Fight” event that benefits the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation.

patjennyPat loved her family, was a friend to all, and a champion of the underdog.  We remember her excellent sense of humor, her incredible generosity, and her boundless energy. She will be forever missed by her family and friends.

A memorial service will be held Friday, Oct. 19 at 11:00 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 225 East Broad Street, Falls Church.  Private interment will occur on a later date at Oakwood Cemetery in Falls Church.  

Contributions in Pat Franklin’s memory may be made to either the Flying Deer Nature Center, http://flyingdeernaturecenter.org/contact.html; the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation, Oakland, MD, http://www.melanomaresource.org/index.php/site/content/donatetothefoundation/ ; or to the Container Recycling Institute, Culver City, CA, http://www.container-recycling.org/



Tributes to Pat


Pat was a shining light in the recycling movement. She was a jack-of-all-trades at CRI. She recruited executives from secondary materials industries to serve on CRI's board, and was tenacious in spreading the message of producer responsibility--long before that term gained widespread use. Yes, she could speak to reporters and members of Congress, debate beverage industry lobbyists, and secure prestigious grants, but she also stuffed envelopes late into the night, shlepped boxes to and from Kinko's, prepared food for board meetings, hosted out-of-town colleagues in her own home, found ingenious ways to keep old computer equipment going, and kept her cats--and sometimes her husband--fed. When money was tight, she refused to take a paycheck so that her staff could be paid.

On a personal note--Pat was a mentor and close friend to me for twenty years. We met by mail and phone (pre-internet) in 1992 when I was in grad school at UC Berkeley. CRI had just been founded, and I somehow found a copy of Pat's first or second newsletter. Excited, I called her and shared my draft thesis with her about the environmental and social impacts of the aluminum and hydroelectric industries, and about what we called the "upstream" effects of not recycling. We shared information for years, and in 2000 she hired me as CRI's research director. For seven intense years, we collaborated on work that we both shared a passion for--often to the puzzlement of our own families and friends. We stayed close even after we both left CRI. She treated my two daughters as if they were her own grandchildren--never forgetting to send them presents at Hanuka, staying up on their activities, and even subsidizing their first year at camp at the Flying Deer Nature Center. Our two families have become closer and closer with each passing year. No one can fill the hole that Pat's passing leaves in our hearts.

Pat was hit by a pickup truck after shopping at the farmer's market in Oakland, MD and preparing to--yes, it's true--make a drop-off at the recycling center. She sustained head injuries from which she could not recover, and she died with many family members present. In a fitting final act of recycling, her organs were donated to give others life. She did not suffer.     

With a heavy heart and love to all,

Jenny Gitlitz
CRI Research Director 2000-2007


All of us at The Natural Resources Defense Council are saddened at the much-too-soon passing of Pat Franklin. We at NRDC relied on her work at CRI, the information she assembled, the collaborations she formed, the innovative perspectives she taught, and we still do. Pat deservedly achieved national stature and during the most intense battles of the garbage wars in the 1990s Pat was a great leader, always armed with powerful data and personal energy. It goes without saying that Pat was an environmental hero and in the world of recycling she was a giant. Pat was a delightful colleague, a gracious and elegant advocate whose work was highly regarded even by those with whom she disagreed. This is indeed a very sad day, but when Pat goes before her maker and is asked “How did you spend your life? What did you try to accomplish?” she will have a very inspiring answer.

Allen Hershkowitz, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
Natural Resources Defense Council


Pat will be remembered fondly as the ultimate source for information and inspiration. Yes even in the halls of the Mississippi Legislature her persona and organization provided us with the tools to make the soft drink bottlers, Budweiser and retailer lobbyists lives a living hell for years...KUDOS to a life well spent in pursuit of making the world a better place!!!

Louie Miller
Sierra Club in Mississippi


A true fighter who left this Earth a better place. A woman of vision and determination who didn't ever doubt the truth of her path. I am sad for the hole she leaves in the Zero Waste Movement quilt. Let us live a bit bigger today in her memory - sometimes the unfairness of it all pisses me off.

Eric Lombardi


This is truly a loss, and I want to extend to her family and friends my heartfelt sympathy.  Her efforts made great difference in how we handle recycling and waste and was of great benefit to the environment.

Diane D.  Buxbaum, MPH
Environmental Scientist
U.S.Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2


She worked with NJ Chapter on our bottle bill and helped to write the NJ Smart Container Act. She came here and testified at the Assembly Environment Committee hearing on Smart Container act .She will be missed and we hope to pass the bill in her memory one day.

Jeff Tittel, Director
NJ Sierra Club


I’ve been with VPIRG for about 12 years and was with MASSPIRG before that.  The Bottle Bill is an issue I’ve worked on occasionally in both states.  I had the chance to speak with Pat infrequently, but without fail when Pat called, she would quickly reestablish the connection and, in a friendly way, get right down to business.  She might have had useful information to pass on.  Or she needed to know what was happening from someone on the ground.  Or she had an idea for action that would advance the cause.  And she was compelling.  You always made time for Pat, in part because she didn’t ask for a lot and she was always so willing to give so much of herself.        

Pat was one of the most focused advocates I’ve ever met.  It’s not an overstatement to call her an inspiration.  Her work made a tangible difference in the lives of millions of people.  Her name will not be known by most of those people, but every time they recycle a can or bottle, they will be extending her important legacy.  And those of us who are fortunate to have known Pat will carry on with our work not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because somewhere in the back of our minds we can still hear Pat’s voice encouraging us to do just a little bit more.

Truly, the world could use more Pat Franklins.

Paul Burns
Executive Director


Hats off to Pat Franklin for her vision and hard work. Let's keep her memory alive by getting container recycling legislation passed across North America -- even in Eric's home state of Colorado.

Helen Spiegelman, British Columbia
Board member, Product Policy Institute


Very sad news,  she was a mentor to me and many others.  6 billion more just like her and the world would be a better place...

Jay Dresser, Maine


I mourn the passing of my good friend and colleague Pat Franklin.  She single-handedly kept the issue of unconscionable beverage container waste alive through the 1990s. Bottle bills were enacted in 10 US states in the 1970s and 80s. By 1994, when Newt Gingrich introduced his Contract On America to repeal all manner of environmental legislation and regulation, most enviros moved on from trying to pass more bottle bills.  Not Pat. She, virtually alone, kept the flame alive through the organization she founded, Container Recycling Institute.

I learned so much from Pat.  One of the first papers I read on EPR was written by Pat: Extended Producer Responsibility: A Primer, presented at Michelle Raymond’s 1997 Take it Back! Producer Responsibility Forum.  Pat was an early adopter who understood that producer-managed bottle bills were the original EPR laws in North America.

I worked alongside Pat on numerous projects and campaigns, first as the E.D. of GrassRoots Recycling Network, then as E.D. of Product Policy Institute. Her house was always open to me when I came to DC, and also to my family. Most of all, I miss Pat’s warmth, clarity of focus, and indomitable spirit.

Bill Sheehan
Executive Director, Product Policy Institute


So sorry to hear...what a loss to the world.

Sara Melnicoff
Solutions of Moab


I had some interaction with Pat back in the 1990s when I was first engaged with recycling issues and, although I did not know her personally, I feel a sense of loss. Her generosity, leadership and professionalism in advancing recycling and environmental issues was certainly evident to me.

Greg Tyson
BC Ministry of Environment


I had the pleasure of working closely with Pat (and with Jenny and the rest of the staff at CRI) during our campaign for the Bigger Better Bottle Bill in New York. We are so glad she was here with us to celebrate that victory. She was a wonderful person and a true environmental hero. Thank you, Pat, for fighting the good fight! You were an inspiration to us all.

Laura Haight


In the massive sprawl of spreadsheets, research reports, news clips, videos and other computer files with which I keep track of Tennessee's effort to enact container deposit legislation, there is one tiny Word document called simply "Bottle bill notes." It says:

"4-15-04 ... called Container Recycling Institute—talked to Pat Franklin, ED. More movement here than I realized—[Sen] Randy McNally and [Rep] _____ Johnson sponsored bill last year—deferred of course. I told Pat I was prepared to take this on."

Pat's response to that call changed my life. Rather than roll her eyes at a volunteer who was so clearly out of the loop (I'd never even heard of Russell Johnson, the bill's chief sponsor), she welcomed me with open arms. She made it clear that enthusiasm for the cause more than made up for any lack of knowledge of its details. And she made a promise that all of CRI's resources, from the web skills of its interns to the brain of Jenny Gitlitz, were at Tennessee's disposal.

She was as good as her word. Within days I was communicating with activists throughout Tennessee as well as in other states and even other countries. I was inundated with data, plied with PowerPoint presentations and directed to vital websites. I was put in touch with our allies among the processing and manufacturing industries, and I was cautioned about our opponents in the beverage and grocery lobbies. Above all, I was treated to Pat's boundless optimism, feistiness and energy—along with her e-mail address and phone numbers! These became my lifeline, whether it was the middle of the night or the start of a subcommittee hearing. If Pat ever got tired of my appeals—for statistics, for clarification, for background or simply for a shoulder to wail on—she never let on. Her commitment, compassion and kindness were in every "Congratulations!" or "Keep up the good work!", and her sly humor and righteous indignation were in every "Don't let the b******** get you down!"

Today, eight-and-a-half years later, Tennessee is more committed than ever to finishing the task Pat helped us start. And when that day comes--when Tennessee's citizens begin reaping the green jobs, the premium resources, the cleaner environment and the public pride that come with a container deposit, I'll raise a glass to Pat's memory. And then I'll get back my nickel for the empty container.

Marge Davis
Pride of Place / Tennessee Bottle Bill Project


Pat was instrumental in helping us get the Bigger Better Bottle Bill passed in New York - she even gave it that wonderful alliterative name.  But she also made an indelible impression on all who met her, with her irrepressible energy, enthusiasm, and warm generous spirit.  Pat had a lot of heart, and she was always willing to help.  How many times did I send Pat an email asking an urgent question and get a lengthy reply back from her in the wee hours of the night.  

As incredibly knowledgeable as she was, she could also be a bit flaky sometimes.  I remember one time helping her look for over an hour for where she parked her car in one of the garages at the state capitol.  But the best story of them all was when she came to Albany and left her purse on the sidewalk, only for it to be recovered and returned to the police by none other but a homeless person looking for bottles and cans in the garbage!  This was such a good story the Albany Times Union covered it (see article).  Talk about earned media!

The last time I remember Pat coming to Albany was for the final celebration of the passage of the Bigger Better Bottle Bill in 2009.  All of the people who helped get the law passed – and some who were just pretending they did – stood behind Governor David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, and other legislative leaders at a news conference in Washington Park on a glorious spring day in Albany to celebrate the victory.

It was so fitting that Pat could be there.  As she said “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”  

And we wouldn’t have missed Pat for the world.  We will always cherish her memory.  With love and affection and gratitude from all of us in New York who knew and worked with Pat.  She was an inspiration to us all, and she will be deeply missed.

Laura Haight
Senior Environmental Associate
New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)
Albany, New York


Pat Franklin was a brilliant advocate, dogged researcher, highly effective policy wonk, tireless recycling advocate and lucky for me, a wonderful friend.  I can't quite remember when Pat and I first met over the phone, but I know that she was just about the only person who truly believed we could expand New York's " container deposit law, to add water bottles and ensure that unclaimed deposits returned to the public treasury.  Without her, we never would have succeeded in New York.  Pat went "above and beyond" what most people would do to affect change.  She worked so hard because she often purposely placed herself in the middle of the some of the biggest recycling battles in the country.  For that, and for many other reasons, the world is such a better place because of not only the work, but because of the infectious spirit that Pat brought to everything she touched.   My sincere sympathy to Pat's family and friends.  She was truly special.

Judith Enck
Brooklyn, New York

We first met Pat at a recycling conference in the early 90's, at which she took the time to speak with us, and a small group of bottle redemption center owners, who were seeking to build a Bottle and Can Redemption Association. At that time, the NYS bottle bill was being opposed, even though it was a greatly successful program. We needed to form an alliance in support of the Bottle Bill, not only because it was our livelihood but because it was the best recycling program out there.  With such a lack of education on the topic of bottle bills, and their success, our task of educating those in political office seemed almost insurmountable. Then, along came Pat Franklin into our lives. She was helpful, hopeful, sympathetic and educated. She, and CRI, had the facts that we needed to prove what we already knew; that the NYS Bottle Bill was a success and it needed expansion, not dissolution! Seeing how much we were in need of her help, Pat took the time to go to lunch with a small group of us that day, and a relationship was formed. She was the source of help, understanding, and information we needed.

Her continual efforts, through CRI, helped fuel our newly formed association, it's newsletters, meetings and lobbying trips, some of which Pat attended with us.

Pat's help with recycling conferences was invaluable.  She was always giving, supportive, informative and even motherly; that person you turned to when it seemed that the world was against you!

We truly believe that, without Pat Franklin, her support of the NYS Bottle Bill, and it's expansion, we would not be in business today! Her work and support was invaluable to us, and many others, in the recycling business. There are so many people that have been affected by Pat Franklin's work who are not even aware of of it. Either through a recycling business that stays alive due to the research she has supplied... like us. Or, through the effects of a cleaner environment which she helped to produce.

As Pat looks down on us today, we send her a big thanks for all she has done for us, our business, and our environment! She will be greatly missed!

Frank and Garrie Procopio
Central City Bottle Redemption Center, Inc
Co-founder(s) of NYS BACRA


My connection to Pat Franklin goes back to 1980, when she called for help in defending a local bottle bill in Virginia.  It has been a great honor to know and continue to work with her on many more campaigns.  Besides agreeing with everyone on Pat’s warmth and generosity, what I probably appreciated most was that she could also be very feisty.  This came out when she felt an opponent was being unfair, or throwing their weight around – which was quite often.  The response was likely in the form of a dagger of a letter to an editor, or preparations for the next opportunity to testify at a hearing.  What we also had in common was a high respect for facts and credible data and data analysis.  That approach provides the bedrock underlying any respectable research organization, and CRI fits that description in large part because of Pat.  I do so miss her, but we will honor her best by persisting in a “campaign” for a better world.

Roger Diedrich
Member of the Board, CRI
Zero Waste Team Chair, Sierra Club


Because I had depended upon her for so much about returnables, it pained me when Pat retired several years ago. Later, the sense of deep loss passed after it became clear that none of us are indispensible, but rather only play a role for a time as a peg in the great wheel of life. That's something Pat intrinsically understood.  

Incisive, witty and committed were her hallmarks.

Memories are more redolent than indelible, I know, but it shall be a long time before I forgot her and the place she occupied so well for a time, leaving behind a better world for it.

Peter Anderson


I think it was about 1995 when I first heard from Pat. I don't know who gave her my name but she started pestering me about CRI. She wanted money and my little recycling company really didn't have much at the time. Later we made a small donation and her calls became more frequent. She was not satisfied. Now she wanted me to get directly involved. I kept resisting ... she kept insisting. At first I tried to give her more money in hopes that she'd go away. In the end she won and I joined her board. Pat had bulldog determination and no idea that what she was trying to accomplish was damn near impossible. She was a treasure and will be missed.

Tex Corley
Chair of the Board, Container Recycling Institute
Boerne, TX


On behalf of the Boomerang Alliance of 22 Australian environment groups I would like to express our condolences to Pat's family and the wider CD campaigning family in the US, on Pat's death.  She was a pioneer, advisor and hero to the many campaigns that have and continue to be run to get the best recycling system for beverage containers.

She will be much missed.

Jeff Angel
National Convenor, Boomerang Alliance
Executive Director, Total Environment Centre









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