In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the recycling industry, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries awarded its 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award to Jerry Simms of Atlas Metal & Iron Corp. of Denver (retired). Simms’ career in the recycling industry spanned more than four decades, during which he successfully led a number of key regulatory and legislative victories for the industry through his involvement with ISRI.
Simms was a leading advocate for Superfund reform to protect scrap recycling companies. In 1991, he wrote to ISRI encouraging the organization and the industry to aggressively fight Superfund’s injustices. He argued that the law unfairly made scrap recycling companies liable for contamination that other companies caused. His letter called for rallying ISRI members at the grassroots level and leveraging their political power to effect change on this critical issue. His efforts culminated in the passage of the Superfund Recycling Equity Act in 1999. Simms’ work in mobilizing his colleagues around the industry demonstrated the power of grassroots advocacy. His effort helped build a political structure at the trade association: the Grass Roots Implementation Team or GRIT, and set him on a path of leadership.
In addition to his work on GRIT, Simms filled a variety of other ISRI leadership positions, including chair of the government affairs committee, member of the stormwater steering committee, nonferrous division director, director-at-large, chair of the ISRI PAC Leadership Council, member of the national board of directors, and head of task forces that have addressed SREA, automotive mercury switches, and other issues. He also led the membership criteria subgroup, part of the industry image task force, which helped draft ISRI’s code of conduct.
Jerry Simms ascended to ISRI Board Chair, serving from 2012-2014. During his tenure, he continued his strong push for ISRI’s advocacy efforts with particular emphasis on reinvigorating ISRI’s state program, led the efforts to further strengthen ISRI’s delivery of safety resources and support to all of our members, and worked tirelessly to strengthen the industry’s image among the general public. His successes included fighting for the industry on the EPA’s rule of definition of solid waste, EPA’s authorization of plastics recycling from shredder fluff and expanding resources to fight metals theft.