In the early 1990s, Dick's boss, Harry Shelson, came to him and said: I want you to join PPEC. Dick had no idea what PPEC was. Told that it was some environmental thing and that he should find out about it as soon as possible, Dick said: OK boss, and away he went.
He would end up as one of the longest-serving directors of the council, and as a somewhat reluctant interim chair. I was at home one evening and the phone rang, he said recently. It was the executive director of PPEC, and eventually I learned that PPEC was looking for a chairman. I was racking my brain thinking who that might be, and then it came out that the council was thinking of me. I also happened to be the only guy living in Toronto at the time, so it was much more convenient for the council to get cheques signed and everything.
So I sort of reluctantly said OK on condition that I would relinquish my post as soon as we found a chairman. So we called me interim. Interim lasted over five years! So if you ever get asked to be interim anything, be careful!''
In a memory that obviously stuck with him, Dick recently recounted the story of an Ontario provincial government official wondering why Atlantic didn't simply go straight to the local dumps to pick out old corrugated boxes for recycling. The official seemed amazed to learn that while Atlantic sourced most of its used fibre for recycling from within Canada, that there were occasions when it had to bring in used paper from the US.
Why would you do that? asked the official.
Well for one thing, replied Dick, It gets to be less expensive.
Do you mean to tell me that you bought used paper from the States because it was cheaper?
Dick said he had a hard time figuring out the answer to that one, other than Yes, we did, all the time thinking that it must be great to have government money and not to have to worry about making profits.
Dick Staite was a fun guy and contributed much to the early successes of PPEC back in the 1990s and early 2000s. Thanks for the memories.