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

Store Bought

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Market of Choice is on a tear. In 2012 the 35-year-old Eugene-based grocery chain opened a central kitchen/distribution center in its hometown. The market opened a third Portland store in the Cedar Mill neighborhood this year; a Bend outpost broke ground in March. A fourth Portland location is slated for the inner southeast “LOCA” development, a mixed-use project featuring condos and retail. Revenues in 2014 were $175 million, a double-digit increase over 2013. CEO Rick Wright discusses growth, market trends and how he keeps new “foodie” grocery clerks happy.


Read more...

Preserving the Legacy

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A New York floral and gift business takes on the iconic Harry & David brand.


Read more...

5 stats about Oregon fireworks

The Latest
Thursday, June 18, 2015
fireworksthumb001BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Fireworks are a booming industry, even if the pyrotechnics have turned July 4th into a day fire marshals, and many residents, love to hate.


Read more...

Stemming the tide of money in politics

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
 jeff-lang-2012-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy.  “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”


Read more...

Oregon needs a Grand Bargain energy plan

Linda Baker
Monday, June 22, 2015
0622-gastaxblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Clean Fuels/gas tax trade off will go down in history as another disjointed, on-again off-again approach to city and state lawmaking.


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...

Reader Input: Fair Play

May 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Former Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation in February prompted some soul searching in this state about ethical behavior in industry and government.


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