Meet 2023 AOR Board Candidate - Eric Stephens

8 Jun 2023

Eric Stephens

From hand-sorting compost and recyclables at the University of Oregon’s Zero Waste program to managing commercial waste and recycling accounts in the Portland Metro area, my passion for the waste & recycling industry grows stronger with each tick of the clock.

My indescribable passion for recycling has been further ignited as I strive to be an integral representative for Oregon’s materials management system. I’m fortunate to know that my passion for advancing an equitable and sustainable materials management system is shared with a community built on trust, accountability, and collaborative partnerships.

How long and in what capacity(s) have you been involved with AOR (committees, conferences, tours ,etc.)?

Since the beginning of my career in 2019, I have attended AOR conferences and numerous forums--both in-person and virtually. I have assisted on the fundraising committee and had a limited role in the events committee. Completing the Recycling 101 course was a valuable component in developing my base knowledge of the recycling industry. Without AOR I would not be the professional I am today. Having a leadership role within AOR could be the next launching point of my career. In addition to assisting other young professionals develop their industry knowledge my industry knowledge and network would continue to grow.

Why would you like to serve on the AOR Board of Directors?

My depth of knowledge about the waste & recycling industry has been a result of my determination to advance my career with Recology. Each day I strive to learn something new about the waste & recycling industry. Being adaptable and open to shifting viewpoints enhances my holistic perspective on the industry. Through my collaboration with commercial businesses to local, regional, and state governments within the Portland Metro area, I am gaining firsthand information that I could contribute to assisting AOR achieve their vision & mission.

The Association of Oregon Recyclers has been an integral part of my professional development since my time at the University of Oregon. I am ready to dive deeper into the waste & recycling industry by advancing AOR’s mission of achieving a sustainable and high-quality materials management system within Oregon. Local organizations, such as AOR, charge ahead and lay the groundwork for advancing local & state policies that directly tie in to Recology’s mission of achieving a world without waste. From educating the public about thoughtful consumption to lobbying for legislation that creates equitable access to a sustainable materials management system, AOR is right at the front lines. Being able to take on a leadership role within AOR and share my passion with colleagues in the industry will only light a larger fire within my spirit to achieve AOR’s and Recology’s shared values, visions, and missions.

What skills, expertise, and experience do you possess that would be make you a valuable addition?

While finishing my senior year at the University of Oregon, I was excited to join the Stakeholder Engagement Subcommittee as the Youth Representative. Participating in the Recycling Steering Committee’s process of developing a statewide plan to modernize Oregon’s recycling system provided a unique steppingstone for me that ultimately launched my career with Recology.

Throughout my positions with Recology as an Operations Intern, Waste Zero Specialist, and Account Manager, I have acquired firsthand knowledge of the problems and difficulties prevalent throughout the waste and recycling value chain. Within my day-to-day duties I work with a wide range of materials and study their processes from pre-consumer production to post-consumer disposal and recycling.

As the sole Account Manager for Recology Portland I am the primary point of contact for all our customers about what is and is not recyclable/compostable. I answer questions and provide detailed information as to why some products cannot be recycled or composted. Beginning my fourth year as a professional in the industry, my spirit and energy have been fully directed at developing my industry knowledge, expanding my network, and finding solutions to problems that arise daily.

As a professional I am interested in giving my energy to being an integral part in the development of building an equitable & sustainable materials management system within Oregon. Through my knowledge of the complexities within the recycling industry, I am more determined than ever to play a role in advancing AOR’s mission & vision.