Steve Thompson


By The Board of Directors,



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The Power of Collaboration

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The Value of Neutrality





The recycling industry lost a passionate advocate last week and we at AMERIPEN wanted to take a few minutes to honor a man who inspired, mentored and encouraged many of us across the packaging industry.

Steve Thompson was the founder of the Curbside Value Partnership, now The Recycling Partnership. After twenty-two years working for Reynold Aluminum Recycling, Steve saw the need and value in promoting and supporting success with curbside recovery. Partnering with The Aluminum Association and Can Manufacturers Institute, Steve developed the curbside partnership in 2003 as a means through which all material industries could work collaboratively to prompt curbside recycling.

With a strong focus on metrics, collaboration and best practices, Steve was pleased to note: “Although success varied per community on average, communities that worked directly with the association witnessed a 23% increase in recycling volume and an 18% increase in participation.” Steve helped move the needle just one step closer to universal access.

Steve retired in April 2014. After more than a decade with Curbside Value Partnership and nearly 40 years in the recycling industry, he left a legacy which today inspires many to encourage, measure and sustain best practices for curbside material collection.

We asked a few of our peers and colleagues to share their thoughts on the legacy and memories Steve leaves behind:

Steve Thompson was a kindhearted, generous soul who was always willing to take time out to chat whether at a conference or one of numerous phone calls to seek his professional opinion. He was a passionate warrior on behalf of recycling — committed to identifying best practice approaches and broadcasting this information far and wide. His contributions to moving the recycling needle in the USA were numerous and significant. He was a valued colleague to all of us who knew him in the recycling industry, and will be deeply missed!

Betsy Dorn, Reclay Stewards Edge

Steve Thompson was fond of reminding us that, “A rising tide floats all boats.”  At the time he was an early champion of packaging materials and organizations collaborating to drive smart solutions for recycling.  But in hindsight, I think it was more than that.  It’s clear to see that in many ways it was he that raised up the rest of us.  He brought a spark and a challenge to each of his relationships – warm, smart, and startlingly articulate, he helped unlock doors in people, and our industry.  Since his retirement, I’ve sure missed seeing my buddy Steve at meetings.  He was always one that I tried to sit next to because not only did I learn something, I had a lot of fun.  Since his retirement, the Steve-void has been clearly noticeable but I’ve tried to make up for it with predictably boisterous conversations (but he was always brief on the phone!), visiting with him and his beautifully creative wife Lauren at their home, and recently getting him back on the team to help us on a challenging project.  Each day, we at The Recycling Partnership are very honored to continue Steve’s commitment to building strong solutions to recycling’s challenges.  But we’re even more privileged to uphold his spirit of loving life, doing good work…and being a stickler for steadfast data.  In his obituary, his family asked that in lieu of flowers, we all just doing something kind.   I can’t think of a better way to honor our friend than by each of us doing something that floats the boats of the people, and planet, around us.

Keefe Harrison, The Recycling Partnership

When I joined SERDC, I was fortunate to have Steve on my board.  He mentored me in how to build a strong organization, how to focus on the goal, and (importantly) how to avoid problems.  I tribute Steve to be among the few key people who guided me toward the success we enjoy today.

On the personal side, Steve also showed me the way to accept and delight in the things in life that matter the most.

God has taken another angel into His Kingdom.

Will Sagar, Southeast Recycling Development Council

In honor of Steve’s passing, his family has asked those who were touched by him to perform an act of kindness. Others in the industry have stated we need to work harder to ensure that we collaborate to overcome the current challenges facing recycling.

We encourage everyone to take some time to consider and share your thoughts on Steve and how to best honor his legacy.


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