Master Recycler Program Handbook

Welcome to your Handbook! Key professionals, community leaders and fellow Master Recyclers worked together to create this essential tool to help you be effective change agents in the community.


Section I

Systems: Understand the decisions we make about materials in our daily lives in the context of the global economy, social structures and human psychology. 

     Chapter 1: Materials Management (PDF)

  • Oregon’s new vision for materials management
  • from discards management to materials management
  • the lifecycle of materials

     Chapter 2: Climate and Materials (PDF)

  • the scope and potential impacts of climate change
  • materials contribute significantly to climate change
  • the benefits of climate action
  • the costs of climate inaction

     Chapter 3: Sustainable Consumption (PDF)

  • definitions of sustainability
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as an inadequate measurement of a successful economy
  • alternative metrics of economic and social wellbeing
  • towards sustainable consumption

     Chapter 4: Equity and Materials (PDF)

  • defining equity and equality
  • towards the more equitable manufacturing and distribution of materials
  • what happens when equity gets left out of the conversation

     Chapter 5: Discards: Solid Waste and Recovery Systems (PDF)

  • the scope of waste generation
  • the recovery hierarchy: reuse, recycle, compost, recover energy, landfill
  • where does waste go and how

      Chapter 6: Recovery Markets (PDF) 

  • local and global markets for recycled resources
  • types of contamination and their impacts
  • sorting technologies, infrastructure, and their impacts

     Chapter 7: Behavior Change Theory (PDF) 

  • change is a process
  • understanding barriers, benefits and social norms
  • making your message positive and other best practice

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Section II

Our Lives: How can we be most effective in taking actions in our homes, work, schools and other community gathering places?

     Chapter 8: Curbside and Beyond (PDF)

  • your curbside collection system
  • what is and isn’t accepted
  • collection options and best practices within the home
  • food scrap collection and backyard composting

    Chapter 9: Multifamily (PDF)

  • opportunities and barriers
  • outreach strategies
  • beyond recycling

     Chapter 10: Materials at Work (PDF)

  • take advantage of free available resources and technical assistance
  • use tools and best practices such as green teams, waste assessments, and incentives
  • making change durable through policy

     Chapter 11: Schools and Youth Programs (PDF)

  • resources and programs for working in schools
  • how to best connect with a school or school district
  • examples of Master Recycler projects

     Chapter 12: Resourceful Living (PDF)

  • explore places and ideas to reuse, fix and maintain, borrow, rent and share
  • buy smart by planning ahead, thinking durable and gifting experiences
  • strategies to engage others in resourceful living

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Section III

Special Considerations: Some materials have higher environmental and social impacts than others. Toxics, food, electronics and buildings require more resources and are more challenging to manage sustainably.

     Chapter 13 Toxics (PDF)

  • health and environmental impacts of toxics in our products
  • personal choices that can reduce toxics in our lives
  • current public policy and what needs to change

     Chapter 14 Food (PDF)

  • Americans waste a lot of food
  • strategies that work to reduce food waste
  • resources to get involved

     Chapter 15 Electronics (PDF)

  • the special life-cycle impacts of electronics
  • consumer choices that can tackle obsolescence and e-waste
  • laws regarding electronics

     Chapter 16 Sustainable Building (PDF)

  • embodied energy in buildings
  • building, remodeling and maintaining sustainable buildings
  • construction, demolition and deconstruction

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Section IV

Master Recycler Volunteers: Connect in the community, make a difference, find your niche. Find tools, tips and resources to hone your skills so that you can be an effective Master Recycler.

     Chapter 17 The Commitment (PDF)

  • ongoing support
  • certification
  • what is payback


    Chapter 18 Cultural Competence (A future chapter)


    Chapter 19 Effective Tabling and Presentations (PDF) 

  • communication for change
  • feel prepared and armed with tools
  • making it interactive

     Chapter 20 Materials Management at Events (PDF)

  • making our community gatherings sustainable
  • best practices for recycling, compost and waste prevention
  • planning and evaluating event sustainability plan

     Chapter 21 Displays and Literature (PDF)

  • find displays, literature and other resources you can borrow
  • organized by location and topic

     Chapter 22 Places to Volunteer (PDF)

  • find a local community that would welcome a Master Recycler who wants to settle down and do some deeper volunteer work
  • 30 partners listed with contacts and volunteer project ideas
  • indexed by location and topic

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