Jun 30 - Recycling Loses a 'Big Thinker' - Steve Apotheker

Share A long-time recycling advocate died last week. Steve Apotheker, a leader and advocate in the recycling world since the late 1970s, died on June 20 in Portland, Ore., after a six-year battle with multiple systems atrophy. He was 58.

Apotheker got started in the recycling industry when he co-founded the Community Recycling Center in Champaign-Urbana and directed it from 1978 to 1989. Among his distinguishing achievements, he served as the president of the Illinois Recycling Association from 1985 to 1987 and was named Recycler of the Year at both the National Recycling Congress in 1990 and the Association of Oregon Recyclers in 2007.

He also helped secure public funding for recycling at both the city and state levels, established the Illinois Association of Recycling Centers, helped organize the Midwest Recycling Coalition and drafted a statewide recycling and solid waste management act. He worked as a technical editor for Resource Recycling, a national recycling magazine for almost a decade. In 2007, he won the National Recycling Association's Lifetime Achievement Award. This past year he served on the Governor's task-force to revise the Bottle Bill (which recently passed) and on the Disabilities Advisory Committee for the Public Utilities Commission.

"Steve was one of recycling's leaders and big thinkers," said Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste. "He has been instrumental in shaping the state of recycling in Illinois, Oregon and across the country. He will be greatly missed."

Donations in Apotheker’s memory can be made to the Association of Oregon Recyclers, Green Empowerment, or the Union of Concerned Scientists. A memorial service will be held at 5:30 p.m. (PST) on June 30 in the Metro Regional Government Council Chambers, 600 N.E. Grand Ave., Portland.

Read the obituary.