- An Oregon Department of Environmental Quality report shows that Oregon landfilled more and recycled less in 2014, with the 2,572,453 tons of tossed garbage marking a 5.5% increase from 2013.
- The statewide recycling rate was 51% of total waste generated, down from a record 53.9% in 2013. Wasco County dumped 18,175 tons of trash and recovered 7,356 tons with a total recovery rate of 34.8%. Sherman County fell behind Wasco, with a 22% recovery rate, landfilling 1,159 tons.
- Despite the downward trend, Peter Spendelow, a DEQ solid waste analyst, told the Statesman Journal the state is still slightly ahead of its 50% recycling target and continues to rank near the top, nationwide.
Declining numbers may be attributed to both residents’ habits and the state of the recycling industry.
Local Paul Lepinski has been in the business since the 1980s. "It’s a changing world out there," he said, attributing the transition to a dwindling global economy that is bringing demand down with it.
Meanwhile, as the statewide recovery rate drops, new legislation will up the ante for both residents, businesses and recyclers like Lepinski.
Senate Bill 263 sets a 52% recovery goal for 2020, which climbs to 55% in 2025. To help get to that goal, the bill adds more expectations, such as requiring apartment complexes to provide recycling in 2022. A companion bill, SB 245, will add another potentially tough rule, at least for recyclers; the bill increases landfill tipping charges to fund more recycling and waste prevention activities.
Despite the relatively slight drop in rates statewide, Oregon is holding its own; the national recycling rate is 34%. So the legislative nudge may be manageable even in tough times, and will possibly put Oregon on track for upward movement again.