Oregon’s plastic recycling rate droops

| Print |  Email
Thursday, February 01, 2007

recycling.jpg

Oregon’s green landscape turned a little gray in January with an announcement that the statewide rate of recycling rigid plastics slipped below 25%. According to Oregon law, the dip means that businesses will be mandated in 2008 to use greener packaging, such as plastics with recycled content.

The consequences could be widespread, affecting nearly everyone who sells products in plastic containers in Oregon, from cottage cheese to paint, shampoo to water.

“Almost every retailer of every kind, grocery stores through hardware stores, is affected,” says Paul Cosgrove, an Oregon attorney who serves as government relations counsel for the Soap and Detergent Association. “It’s a lot of businesses.”

Officials at the state’s Department of Environmental Quality say the recycling rate for rigid plastics was 24.3% in 2005 — the most recent year for data. Three factors are blamed: poor sorting of materials in curbside recycling programs, higher sales of plastic beverage containers and an increase in non-bottle plastic containers, such as clamshell containers used to get leftovers home from the restaurant.

Because the state’s collective rate has dropped, individual businesses will be required to green up their packaging if they sell products in plastic containers. Under the rules, those containers must meet one of three criteria: contain 25% recycled content, be made of a type of plastic that is recycled in Oregon at 25%, or be reusable.  

Back in October, the DEQ gave businesses a heads up with a standing-room-only meeting that outlined the problem. Attendees came from local and national businesses including Nike, Miller Paint Co., and the American Chemistry Council.

But makers of yogurt and 409 are in no hurry to change their packaging. During the one-year grace period, business leaders are pressing for a change in the law that would increase the recycling rate before they’d have to change their packaging. “There are 1,700 tons of plastics that go to the curbside and don’t get sorted appropriately and then end up as industrial waste,” says Julie Brandis, lobbyist for Associated Oregon Industries. “If we address that, if we find a better way to sort more effectively, does that resolve the problem?”

Some officials suggest that adding water and juice bottles to Oregon’s 35-year-old bottle bill would likely push the plastic recycling rate over 25%. But several industries adamantly oppose expanding the bottle bill — including grocers, who hate collecting smelly bottles at their stores, and distributors, who currently control the system of collecting and reselling glass, cans and soda bottles.

Lorena Young, a senior account manager for Weyerhaeuser, says recycling plastic is not just an environmental issue — it represents a business opportunity. “There are markets [for recycled plastic,]” Young says.

Plus, she says, Oregon is filled with businesses looking to be greener. “There are a lot of people very concerned with sustainability. They’re looking for opportunities to do the right thing.”

— Melissa L. Jones


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

No Boundaries

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Floor plans embrace the great wide open.


Read more...

Urban renewer

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
UnknownBY LINDA BAKER   

One year after he was appointed chair of the Portland Development Commission, Tom Kelly talks about PDC's longevity, Neil Kelly's comeback and his new role as Portlandia's landlord.


Read more...

Cherry Raincoat

June 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Spring rains are the bane of an Oregon cherry farmer’s existence. Even a few sprinkles can crack the fruit so badly it’s not worth picking. Science to the rescue: Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a spray-on film that cuts rain-related cracking in half, potentially saving a season’s crop. The coating, patented as SureSeal, is made from natural chemicals similar to those found in the skins of cherries: cellulose, palm oil-based wax and calcium.


Read more...

6 key things to know about summer baseball in Oregon

The Latest
Friday, June 05, 2015
basedthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

As temperatures in Oregon creep into the 90s this weekend, Oregonians' thoughts are turning to — summer baseball.


Read more...

6 things to know about the Amtrak Cascades route

The Latest
Friday, May 22, 2015
thumb3BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The recent tragedy in Philadelphia has called attention to Amtrak and the nation's woefully underfunded rail service. Here are six facts about the Amtrak Cascades corridor between Eugene and Vancouver B.C. 


Read more...

Photo Diary: Forest Grove Farmers Market

The Latest
Thursday, May 14, 2015
IMG 8469BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

There are more than 160 farmers markets in Oregon, contributing an estimated $50 million in sales, according to the Oregon Farmers Markets Association. We checked in on the Forest Grove market, which for several years has brought local produce and food vendors to Main Street in the center of town.


Read more...

Eco Zoned

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY HANNAH WALLACE

Travelers have always come to Oregon for its natural beauty. But will the increasing popularity of agritourism, European-style hiking getaways and forest resorts relax Oregon's notoriously strict land-use laws?


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS