Bernie Meyerson, 1932 – 2018

The Bay Area Recycling Community Has Lost One Of Its Long Time Heroes
By Kevin Drew, Residential Zero Waste Senior Coordinator, San Francisco Department of the Environment

Bernie Meyerson slipped away in May, following his lifelong partner Marion by 7 years, an eternity after their over 60 years together, starting out as teenagers in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn just after the end of WWII.

Bernie was “present at the creation” of many aspects of what we now take for granted in Bay Area and California resource recovery, such as: curbside recycling in Fresno in the 1970’s, opposition to incinerators in the Berkeley and San Francisco, supporting reform of SF’s 1932 Refuse Ordinance and Norcal’s (now Recology) monopoly, supporting recycled content industries as the only real solution to sustainable materials management. Bernie not only advocated for, but got into the business of, recycling: putting his time and money where his mouth and brain were, helping to create Multi Material Management & Marketing in Oakland.

Bernie was a mentor to many of us in the recycling movement. Always willing to spend some time discussing the intricacies of recycling and materials management. “It’s all about the markets” was Bernie’s common refrain and he’d go on to explain what was happening in China, Viet Nam, India or Los Angeles, where ever material was moving or not moving. For good measure, Bernie could be counted on to add a dose of thoughtful exposition on the connection back to local, state and national policies and politics. He was a powerful intellect, able to hold forth persuasively and accurately on our industry, and many other topics.

Bernie could also be counted on to “be there” for the environment and fellow recyclers, even decades down the road on important matters and little issues. Most recently he helped protect San Francisco’s waterfront from over-development by helping to passing Prop B. He provided long hours of thoughtful consideration as a member of San Francisco’s Peak Oil Task Force. He saved my butt with wise counsel on handling the DOC Enforcement actions being levied at the HANC Recycling Center shortly after I started work there in 1988, and early in the AB2020 implementation.

I really never stopped listening to Bernie wax on, wax on about . . . whatever. I miss that repartee already.

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