State of Oregon Recovery Rate Increases to 38.9 Percent

by Charlotte Becker

For the first time since Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) started tracking the state's waste, Oregonians generated and disposed less waste per capita, helping to increase the statewide recovery rate to 38.9 percent for 2000, up from 36.8 percent in 1999.

The figures come from DEQ's ninth annual survey of garbage haulers and private recycling companies. Materials collected for recycling or composting are counted, as well as some material burned for energy recovery. The major categories include paper, organics (food waste, wood waste and yard debris), metals, plastics, glass, used tires and used motor oil.

The decline may be attributed to several things, including lifestyle changes, more effective programs to recover wood waste, yard debris and construction waste, and a downturn in construction and development.

In 2000, per capita waste generation dropped for the first time since 1992, when tracking began. Generation was 2,645 pounds, down from 1.1 percent from 1999. Per capita disposal also decreased to 1,617 pounds of waste, down 4.3 percent. A total of 1,765,813 tons were recovered, or 1,028 pounds per person.

Lane County took home the gold for 2000 with a 52 percent recovery rate. That's up five percent from 1999. The Metro Wasteshed, which includes Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah counties and Portland, was up two percent from 1999, logging a 51 percent recovery rate.

Only Hood River County did not meet its goal, coming in at 18 percent recovery, instead of the assigned 25 percent.

Organics (food and wood waste, plus yard debris) were the largest portion of the recovery equation at 39.6 percent; followed by paper, 37.1 percent; metals, 11.3 percent; glass, 5.1 percent; and plastics, 1.4 percent. Other assorted waste recovered, including carpets, tires, paint and motor oil, totaled 5.5 percent.

Oregon House Bill 3744, passed this year by the legislature, set new statewide and wasteshed recovery goals.

The new statewide recovery rate goal is 45 percent by the end of 2005; and 50 percent by the end of 2009. "Reaching the new goals for waste prevention and recovery will require a sustained effort," said Chris Taylor, DEQ's Solid Waste Program Manager.

Recycling rate data for the entire state of Oregon is on the DEQ website, A report on the 2000 recovery rates will be available on the site as well.

Article reprinted with permission from the Association of Oregon Recyclers newsletter, September 2001 issue.

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