Return of recycling


Lane County has announced a change to its recycle plan, which is now in effect.

The changes introduced mean many Lane County residents with curbside recycle carts can add plastic #1 and #2 bottles, jars and jugs to their recycling. This also accounts for all Lane County transfer stations.

Cottage Grove Garbage Service, however, has announced that it will not add #1 and #2 plastic back to its curbside recycling until rules regarding new recycling legislation in the form of Senate Bill 582 are formulated.

The bill directs the Department of Environmental Quality to study and make recommendations for modernizing Oregon’s recycling system. Results of study are to be reported to interim committees of the Oregon Legislative Assembly no later than September 15, 2022.

The county’s expanded list of items — which must be clean, dry, and larger than a tennis ball — rejoin the recyclable materials stream after being excluded in 2018, following a global recycling market crisis. Since then, the market and sorting process has improved, according to Lane County Waste Reduction Program Supervisor Angie Marzano.

“Since the crisis, local material recovery facilities (MRFs) have worked to add additional machinery and advanced technology to sort and clean up the recycling stream,” Marzano said. “We’ve also seen domestic markets improve and more companies buying post-consumer resin made from recycled plastics.”

The change now allows for larger, non-deposit items like big detergent jugs and juice containers also to be recycled.

Kelly Bell coordinates Lane County’s Master Recycler efforts and sees the change as a step towards the eventual acceptance, at some point in the future, of most materials for recycling. 

Once the plastic is collected, the material is taken to a local reload facility where it is baled and transported to facilities such as WestRock, a Portland-based MRF. WestRock sorts single-stream recycling materials to be sold to end buyers.

 “A big driver of the change is technology based,” Bell said. “There are new technologies that use lasers and special cameras that can look at the materials on the belt and see what is being collected and what condition it is in. So, now they know what bundles are made up of cereal boxes or cardboard or mixed materials. This means they can do a much better job of sorting things out and getting it to the right vendor for purchase.”

Another aspect of the change is the public focus on recycling, which has increased since the cessation of shipments to China and the 2021 passage of the Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act. The act funds the increased costs associated with additional recycling efforts, making it easier for the public to access and use recycling programs. 

It should also serve as a tool to upgrade facilities that sort recyclables. 

Lane County’s Waste Management Division has produced and posted a new video detailing the current recycling plan and offers suggestions to consumers on its website.

The list of items that cannot be recycled at this time includes the following:

• no caps, lids, or pumps 

• no butter, cottage cheese, or yogurt tubs 

• no plastic bags 

• no clamshell containers 

• no prescription bottles 

• no motor oil bottles or jugs 

• no plastics stamped with the numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7.

Bell also wanted to remind those recycling to clean thoroughly and dry the items to be recycled and to familiarize themselves with the current accepted materials

“When in doubt, leave it out,” she said. “Everybody has a role to play in this process and we just want people to have the right information to make it as simple as possible.” 

To view the video updating consumers on items now recycled and to see visual examples, go to LaneCountyOR.gov/recycle. This is also where residents can see what is accepted at transfer stations across the county.

In Florence, the Lane County Transfer Station is at 2820 Rhododendron Dr. and is open Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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