Recycling has been in the news a lot lately. Pilot programs have run for years and finally, after overwhelmingly positive results, local governments are adopting residential single-stream recycling valley-wide. That’s good news for all of us in Southern Nevada since it will be easier than ever for homeowners to reduce their waste and help the environment.
Recycling is now a mainstream component in both residential and commercial waste management. Millions of tons of valuable materials are put to good use rather than ending up in the landfill. A lot of people have worked hard to get us to this point but one person stands above them all.
Rob Dorinson, founder and president of Evergreen Recycling, had a vision along with the passion and commitment to see it through. He led by example and worked tirelessly to reach a goal that at times seemed unattainable. His efforts have improved the quality of life for our entire community and beyond. Last week, Rob died at the age of 62 after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gerhig’s disease. He was one of our community’s most respected green leaders.
Like many who knew him, I considered Rob a friend. It did not matter how often we saw each other; I suspect he had that effect on everyone who knew him. We first met at a meeting to explore the formation of a new organization, the Nevada Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. From that point on, Rob was a strong supporter of the non-profit, helping it grow into a respected and effective organization. He made it clear that he wanted to turn recycling into a major, positive benefit for the community. Early on he saw the connection between high-performance buildings and the effective management of waste generated in the construction process.
I would see Rob at almost every chapter meeting and he often shared his recent experiences as he worked to bring his dream to fruition. He had more than his share of challenges and I appreciated his candor as he filled me in on his progress. There was not much of a market for recycled materials back then. Local government officials were often at odds with his vision, with seemingly endless regulatory hurdles to overcome. And then there was the competition, a huge company with deep pockets, deeper connections and a vested interest in the status quo. Although often frustrated and sometimes even exasperated, Rob never lost sight of his goal – and he kept his cool.
Rob’s involvement with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) was an important factor in the success of his company, Evergreen Recycling. Green building incentives in Nevada led to some major projects seeking certification under the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) rating system. LEED mandates major reductions in construction waste through recycling, but at the time, there were no local facilities that could provide those services at the necessary scale. Because of his track record and years of consistent effort, Rob was able to strike a deal that provided a solution for his clients and his company.
He was recently honored by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Nevada Chapter as the inaugural recipient of the USGBC Nevada Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest bestowed upon a USGBC Nevada Member:
This award recognizes a candidate who has significantly contributed to sustainability in our community. Rob has been involved with the USGBC Nevada Chapter since its inception. He has been a true visionary in our community to bring recycling to everyone thus contributing to overall sustainability. He has always supported all of our efforts both financially and through giving of his and his staff’s time.” - 2012 chapter president Dave Ray during his presentation at the annual Leadership Awards banquet and celebration.
Evergreen became the major provider of commercial, industrial and construction waste management services in the valley. One reason for their success was Rob’s innate ability to employ the right people. Evergreen was a team with a mission. They became so successful that their one-time rival became a partner. In 2010, Evergreen merged with Republic Services. Part of the deal was that Evergreen’s employees would stay on, bringing their skills and expertise to the newly-combined venture.
It doesn’t end there though. Evergreen’s mission and culture had a direct impact on Republic Services. The changes occurred locally at first, but some of them have resonated throughout the company at the national level. Because of Rob Dorinson’s efforts, the entire country has been affected in a positive way.
Rob had also been working on a new community education program for homeowners, designed to help them improve recycling rates. The program will be implemented in the coming months.
I am grateful to my friend for making the world a better place. That is the mark of a life well-lived.
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Services to honor Rob Dorinson will be held Friday, March 8th at 3:00pm at Shadow Hills Baptist Church located at 7811 Vegas Drive. The service will be open to the public. Family, friends, colleagues and everyone who wishes to pay their respects are welcome. Wear bright colors! Donations can be made in Rob’s name to the ALS Foundation of Nevada (702-777-0500).