Oregon was on the cutting edge of recycling long before it was considered an obvious alternative to throwing away materials such as aluminum, plastic, glass and paper. In 1983, the state adopted perhaps the most comprehensive recycling law in the nation at that time, requiring garbage collectors and landfills to offer options for recycling. Now, Oregon’s paper mills depend on discarded material collected from around the state. As the recession drives down manufacturing and retail sales, however, the recycled materials industry is facing a serious drop in both demand and prices.
At a time when many are choosing to stockpile recyclables rather than try to sell them for drastically reduced prices, Oregon is implementing new incentives to collect more recycled plastic and other materials. New roll carts for curb side recycling in Portland make it easier to toss things someplace other than the trash can. Beginning January 1, the state’s Bottle Bill will be expanded to include a deposit for plastic bottles as well as glass. The new year will also bring an opportunity to recycle your computer monitor for free in advance of a 2010 regulation which will prohibit disposing of these items.
By law, anything collected for recycling can’t end up in a landfill, but what can sorting plants do if they can’t offload the glut of recyclable materials on their pallets? If you work in the recycling business, how has the economy affected your work? Has the recession changed the way you recycle at home? Have you noticed any changes in the recycling options your community offers?
- Jeff Murray: Vice president of business development at Far West Fibers
- Jerry Powell: Editor and publisher of Resource Recycling Magazine
- Peter Spendelow: solid waste policy analyst with Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
- Kelley Carmichael Casey: Director of development and operations at SCRAP, the School and Community Reuse Action Project and a Master Recycler