The Pat Franklin Courageous Spirit Award

Pat on bike by Kim Franklin Trundle bestThe Container Recycling Institute (CRI) created the Pat Franklin Courageous Spirit Award in 2015 to recognize individuals whose work exemplifies the spirit, goals and achievements of CRI’s late founder and longtime executive director, Pat Franklin.


Who Was Pat Franklin?

Patricia Farrell Franklin was a shining light in the recycling movement. She founded the Container Recycling Institute in 1991, growing it from a shoestring operation in her basement to an internationally recognized source of original research, objective analysis and responsible advocacy. A generous mentor and tireless networker, she nurtured alliances between activists and legislators, found common ground with regulators and policy makers and unstintingly shared information critical to campaigns promoting deposit legislation. She established one of the nation’s first environmental listservs (the Bottle Bill Action Network), founded two information-packed websites ( and and spearheaded a series of Bottle Bill Summits that continue to attract recycling experts from around the world.

A disciple of producer responsibility long before that term gained widespread use, Pat spoke at scores of conferences, was sought after for interviews by reporters in both the mainstream media and the recycling trade press, and was routinely invited to contribute articles, op-eds, position papers and legislative testimony. She was instrumental in getting then-Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont to sponsor a National Bottle Bill initiative, and she testified before the Committee on the Environment and Public Works on Capitol Hill. A diligent researcher and astute analyst, Pat led her small but talented CRI team in producing a number of groundbreaking reports on recycling, and she launched CRI’s comprehensive Beverage Market Data Analysis, a periodic review of container recycling and wasting that has become a vital management and forecasting tool not only for state and municipal officials but for leaders in the manufacturing and secondary-processing sectors. A number of industry executives, impressed by Pat’s understanding of their issues as well as her fairness, tenacity and absolute allegiance to facts, accepted her invitation to join CRI’s governing board. This unusual model—an environmental organization in which corporate representatives work side by side with citizen activists and grassroots leaders to further their mutual goal of economic and environmental sustainability—is one of Pat’s most important legacies.

Though Pat’s visibility made her a target for powerful opponents, especially members of the beverage and grocery industries, she never failed to meet their attacks with polite determination, feisty counter-arguments and an unapologetic belief in the justness of her cause. Such perseverance, professionalism and dedication were compelling, and when Pat died in 2012 after being struck by a vehicle (ironically while carrying materials to be recycled), even critics acknowledged that she had been a worthy adversary.

Award Details and Criteria

The award is not monetary, but is accompanied by a plaque made of recycled glass, and is announced in both the national and trade press as well as in the recipient’s local media and in CRI’s publications and online platforms.

The selection committee, which includes CRI board members as well as advisors to the organization, look for nominees with a record of:

  • Working toward the quality recycling of beverage containers or other consumer packaging or printed material
  • Building consensus and working with coalitions
  • Challenging entrenched policies or ways of thinking;
  • Generosity with time, ideas, strategies and encouragement
  • A gift for communicating effectively and persuasively to varied audiences
  • An ability to inspire, encourage and empower people to take action
  • Commitment to the long term, even when the challenges are daunting.

Past Recipients

2021 John W. “Jack” Coughlin, Jr., Agawam, Massachusetts

2018 I.T. “Tex” Corley, Boerne, Texas

2015 Marge Davis, Nashville, Tennessee

2015 Mike Garver, Houston, Texas


More Information

If you know someone who deserves the Pat Franklin Courageous Spirit Award, please let us know by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling (310) 559-7451. For more information about the Container Recycling Institute, please visit our website at



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