Mark Reiter was defined by politics and the political process. According to Robin Wiener, president of the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Reiter once said, “Being connected to politics keeps my engine going.”
Reiter, who served as a longtime ISRI employee, died Jan. 15 in his home at the age of 74. Wiener says when Reiter first joined the association, he thought he would stay only for a few years before moving on to something else. But he ended up staying with the association for nearly 30 years, most recently serving as vice president of government relations.
“He fell in love with the industry and the members, and he literally never left,” Wiener says, adding that he was a “wonderful and dear friend to me and many others on staff, throughout the membership and here in Washington. 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.”
While with ISRI, Wiener says Reiter was dedicated to advancing the interests of the association’s members. He enjoyed using his experience and expertise to help empower ISRI members to feel comfortable meeting with their local, state and national representatives. He also helped to create ISRI’s original grassroots industry 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,” Wiener says.
According to Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, one of Reiter’s greatest accomplishments was the enactment of the Superfund Recycling Equity Act (SREA) in 1999, which provided environmental clarity for recyclers facing potential liability under Superfund.
“Because of SREA, recyclers today conduct due diligence to ensure their materials are used again in an environmentally responsible manner,” Pallone says. “SREA was a monumental achievement for responsible recycling, and Mark was instrumental in its enactment.”
Reiter grew up in the Bronx, but Pallone says he began his career in Washington to work for the late Bella Abzug, a member of the U.S. Congress representing New York City’s 19th district. “Mark would often entertain people with stories about those years working in her office,” he says.
Although he moved to Washington for his political career, Pallone adds that Reiter was “a New Yorker through and through and never let you forget it.” He says he also was “fiercely loyal and devoted to his family—his brother, nephews, nieces and their children. Mark would visit them often wherever they lived and generously help whenever needed.”
Later in his career, Pallone says Reiter worked for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, helping shape America’s environmental policy at its earliest stages. And for the latter part of his career, he spent nearly three decades with ISRI on Capitol Hill.
“Mark helped so many colleagues from his beginnings on Capitol Hill through his long successful career at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries,” Pallone says. “Many of his colleagues have gone on to great careers of their own as a result of Mark’s tutelage and deep caring for them. I know because I am one of those colleagues who learned so much and was helped by Mark over the years.
“We lost a giant in the recycling industry, the environmental community and the Jewish community. Mark was a great colleague, a mentor and a friend to so many.”