With brands signaling support for shifting from single-use to reuse/refill packaging systems, big opportunities have opened up for projects, policies and infrastructure to transform how we consume. A New Reuse Economy is developing and growing quickly to replace single-use consumption. But with these commitments and momentum comes competing ideas around vision, strategies and tactics. Many entrenched interests want to defend and expand the single-use status quo. Upstream’s vision is for 30% of consumable goods to be sold in reusable formats in the U.S. and Canada by 2030 – by transforming the food service, beverage and consumer packaged goods sectors.

The Policy Director position ensures that Upstream continues to be a leading voice on shaping reuse policy. Our role as thought leaders,  first-movers, and experts within the reuse space will expand to include a growing set of stakeholders. The Policy Director will be able to bring a systems-view approach to aligning these stakeholders, proposing new policies, and providing internal strategic direction to prioritize programmatic and project directions.

Upstream is in the midst of a transition to focus on not just policy but also on how we can be catalysts to implement change with new, more engaged players such as corporations. We see our core roles in this transition as conveners, facilitators and bridge-builders who grow and support a community of “Reuse Solutioneers” across nonprofit, business, community and government sectors. Our networks include:

  • The National Reuse Network – serving more than 500 NGOs, community, and reuse service company leaders.
  • The Government Reuse Forum – serving more than 270 government officials in state and local government.
  • The Reuse Coalition Leadership Network – serving leaders in Community Reuse Coalitions across the United States and Canada.
  • The Reuse Refill Action Forum – co-produced with the Ocean Plastic Leadership Network and the Meridian Institute – serving more than 160 leaders from food service, beverage, CPG and retail brands.

The Policy Director will report to the Chief Strategy Officer.

Core Responsibilities
The Policy Director leads a team of program associates to prioritize Upstream’s support of policy initiatives throughout the US and Canada. The Policy Director will directly manage this team to develop their work into core expertise areas. The Policy Director will have experience in inspiring a team to learn, dig deep and manage our networks confidently.

There are meaningful opportunities to fund and implement reuse at the state and even federal levels, and growing interest in city policy. The Policy Director will be the face of Upstream in local, regional, and national policy discussions.  They will set the direction for integrating policy considerations into our programmatic work while supervising a team of program managers. The Policy Director will have existing relationships with legislative offices and be tuned into the rhythm of policy making.

Leveraging the four networks, Upstream convenes dialogues to facilitate education, align strategies, and partner on large-scale reuse projects throughout the United States in the food service, beverage and consumer packaged goods sectors. In collaboration with the CSO, the Policy Director will help identify the best opportunities for Upstream to add value in these sectors, and help develop and implement strategies for the Upstream team to execute.

The Policy Director will:

  • Represent Upstream in national and international conversations on reuse policy and implementation
  • Build and steward relationships across the business, government and non-profit sectors where we work
  • Develop new products and model policies to promote reuse policy and implementation
  • Supervise two program managers who manage the networks
  • Lead Upstream network facilitation
  • Publish policy positions via reports, blogs, vlogs and podcasts
  • Facilitate lively, thought-provoking discussions through our four major networks

Must haves for this position:
We recognize the person who fills this position could come from a number of backgrounds so we are really focused on the skills and outcomes we hope to achieve as a result of this position.

  • Strong preference for candidates with dedicated policy campaigning, lobbying, and/or government affairs background.
  • Strong preference for candidates with dedicated experience in circular economy and product policy – such as extended producer responsibility, deposit-return systems, and plastics / packaging reduction.
  • Presentation, writing, and public speaking skills and experience for in-person and social media.
  • Skills and experience engaging with diverse stakeholders and navigating the various lived experiences that exist in these spaces.
  • Willingness and ability to work evening and weekend hours to attend or facilitate meetings for the purposes of local organizing and providing expertise to community-based organizations.
  • Well-organized, able to use online platforms and systems to track and prioritize work.
  • Willingness to work remotely. Upstream has no home office – we are a “distributed” team.
  • Ability to travel for meetings, co-working, staff retreats, and other convenings as part of the job.
  • Demonstrated leadership, employee management, and accountability skills.

About Upstream

Upstream is a non-profit organization that sparks innovative solutions to plastic pollution by helping people, businesses and communities shift from single-use to reuse.