It is with much sadness and grief that I share with you that Mark Reiter, ISRI's employee of nearly 30 years and current vice president of government relations, passed away on Wednesday, January 15, 2020. Mark always said that when he joined ISRI, he thought he would stay for a few years and then move on to something else. But he fell in love with the industry and the members, and he literally never left.
Having had the pleasure and honor of working beside Mark for his entire ISRI career, I can honestly say that doing right for the membership was always at the top of his mind, and doing it with integrity was always his first priority. Mark absolutely loved working for the recycling industry and was dedicated to advancing the interests of each and every member. What he loved most was using his experience and expertise to help empower individual members to feel comfortable meeting with their local, state, and national representatives. Mark helped create ISRI's original grassroots advocacy network. He would tell members that "when meeting with your elected representatives, always remember that you are not a Democrat, you are not a Republican, you are an ISRI-ite!" In other words, if you want to do what is best for the industry, you have to put ISRI above party politics.
While Mark accomplished many things in his years at ISRI, he was most proud of the work he did alongside that grassroots network to lobby for the passage of the Superfund Recycling Equity Act (SREA) in 1999. SREA saved the industry hundreds of millions of dollars and created the precedent for recognizing recyclers as distinct from disposal or waste operations. He truly made a difference for the industry.
Politics and the political process defined Mark. He was fond of recalling that he started in politics at age 10, working on sound trucks for various candidates in his hometown of the Bronx, N.Y. In the years that followed, Mark worked for New York Mayor John Lindsay; he moved to Washington, D.C., to work for Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.); he spent 10 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; then he returned to Capitol Hill as a senior staff member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In 1992 he left government and joined ISRI as manager of legislative and international affairs. As Mark once said, "Being connected to politics keeps my engine going."
Mark was also a wonderful and dear friend to me and many others on staff, throughout the membership, and here in Washington. He will be missed.
Funeral arrangements are still pending. We will set up a tribute page on ISRI's website which will be updated with details once they become available.