I said goodbye to an old friend and colleague this month. It was hard entering the room with both of us knowing that this would be the last time we would trade insults and crack bad jokes together. And even harder closing with a couple of final strong handshakes and a gentle pat on his shoulder.
He would die just a week later, knowing what was coming because he had chosen palliative care after the doctors had told him they could do nothing more to slow or stop tbe cancer’s unrelenting progress.
I first met Doug in 1991 when we were both members of Canada’s National Task Force on Packaging (commonly known as NAPP). He represented the glass industry and I was one of the paper reps. He was a veteran even then, having worked for Consumers Glass for several years. I was a rookie.
We bonded instantly, perhaps because both the paper and glass industries were political targets, heavier materials that on a weight basis made up a disproportionate tonnage of the waste stream.
Later, Doug and I would address this simplistic view of environmental impact by commissioning a study on applying activity-based costing (ABC) to residential recycling. This was infinitely fairer to all materials and soon became the method by which Blue Box material costs were allocated in EPR programs across the country.
Doug also played a key role as one of the “industry” reps on the national packaging survey committee of NAPP. Much to everyone’s surprise (and in some cases, disappointment) Canada actually made its 50% waste diversion target in 1996, four years ahead of time. Doug was one of the multi-stakeholder “number crunchers.”
Many of the NAPP members kept in touch after the task force was disbanded. A small group of us would occasionally meet up at a restaurant or pub to discuss the latest politics on packaging or anything else. I will miss his concise, articulate, and reasonable nature, and his sense of humour.
Doug was also a keen sportsman. He actually represented Québec in curling at one time, although I never knew this until recently. That was typical Doug, quiet and self-effacing. And his golf drives were routinely straight and true, just like the man himself.
As I said goodbye I joked that if he came back it would be as a glass recycler. He just grinned and gave me a thumb’s up.
His wife Betty and adult children Neil, Heather and Ken can be very proud of Doug’s legacy. He will be missed.