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|Articles - February 2010|
|Wednesday, January 20, 2010|
Page 6 of 6
Lewis acknowledges Waste Management’s economic impact and the multiplier effect it has in the county, but she says it was a small factor. She says the main issue was whether Riverbend could prove that it met county and state land use criteria.
“I think that we need reasonable solid waste alternatives in Yamhill County and we just voted that the reasonable alternative was to expand the existing landfill. There are no better alternatives at this time,” she says. But she looks forward to the day when Riverbend will close. “I want this to be the last time we expand the landfill,” she says.
Opponents have appealed the county’s decision.
Arlington was the first large EPA-compliant landfill in the region. Today there are half a dozen comparably sized landfills in Oregon and Washington, including the Roosevelt Landfill across the river in Klickitat County. Competition from neighboring landfills can rob counties of host fees, which are usually pegged to waste volumes. Last year, Roosevelt scored a $9.9 million contract for household waste from Oahu, Hawaii, and it could potentially snatch any of Arlington’s big contracts — Seattle, Metro and Kitsap County, Wash. — which would mean a devastating loss of revenue for Gilliam County. Gilliam is currently embroiled in a fierce battle over tribal fishing rights that will determine whether or not there will be barge access at the Port of Arlington, an important factor in securing waste contracts.
Additonally, the total waste stream may be shrinking. The amount of trash Oregonians sent to landfills increased every year for a decade until 2008, when it dropped by 16%. The decrease was largely due to the recession, but some industry experts say that recycling enthusiasm and efforts to reduce packaging have reversed the trend of rising landfill waste for good. The Northwest has always been a leader in recycling and could start to see landfills lose importance, says Waste Management regional vice president Dean Kattler.
The rising recycling rate is part of what’s driving the waste industry’s current big trend: the green revolution. Waste Management now earns 49% of its revenue from “green services,” including recycling and waste and landfill gas energy projects. It’s hard to predict what effect this will have on Oregon’s dump towns — decreased landfill volumes may force counties to wean themselves off landfill host fees, but alternative waste-management technology could also create jobs — but there are already hints of big changes in Oregon’s dump economy. Two former landfill engineers in Boardman founded Finley Bioenergy, which started converting the methane from the Finley Buttes Landfill into electricity in 2007. It’s only 2.5 jobs at the moment, but the operation will expand as the landfill grows and produces more methane. Other kinds of composting and waste-to-energy projects could potentially bring new jobs.
The biggest unknown is what the eventual environmental impact will be of burying so much waste. The EPA warns that landfill liners can fail unpredictably with time, and counties will be left with their caches of other people’s trash for a long, long time after the landfill is closed. Scientists estimate that it takes at least 500 years for a plastic bag to decompose and more than 1,000 years for Styrofoam.
With 20 years of hindsight, Laura Pryor and Dennis Gronquist say there isn’t much they’d do differently. The landfill may have actually made the local economy less diversified by providing higher-paying employment that drew workers away from farming. But Pryor and Gronquist say they would absolutely sign the agreement with Waste Management again.
“The impact that this has on the county,” Pryor says, pausing to search for a word with enough weight, “is extreme.”
Monday, July 14, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER
Some people think Amazon’s winking eye logo is starting to look like a hoodwink.
Monday, July 07, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Named after the 2010 experiment by Thomas Ryan, "Robin Sages" are fake social media profiles designed to encourage linking and divulging valuable information.
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR
Dress for Success Oregon promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools.
Monday, August 25, 2014
BY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER
Ferguson Wellman’s investment views on the economy and capital markets.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
OB Research Editor Kim Moore shares some pointers about the 100 Best Companies to Work For survey.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment.
Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
Monday, June 30, 2014
Oregon Business magazine won two silver awards for excellence in writing in the National American Society of Business Publication Editors Western region competition.
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