Master Recycler Newsletter -- December 2018

Shaping the future of our region’s systems

Comment now on draft 12-year plan for garbage and recycling

About every 10 years, the Portland area gets the opportunity to re-envision the blueprint that guides how we manage the garbage and recycling system. What we buy, recycle, compost and throw away –  and how – can have a range of impacts on people's health, the environment and the economy.

It is important that you comment! Master Recyclers have toured the facilities and heard from 27 experts in the field. You have navigated the amazing resources and the road bumps and challenges in the system.


It is also important that you understand the proposed changes so that you will be able to navigate the potential changes while you are working in your areas on reducing, recycling, composting and educating.

Imagine manufacturers reducing the use of toxic materials in their products and packaging. Imagine expanding services to help people reuse and repair stuff instead of tossing items into the trash. Imagine more comprehensive collection services for everyone - regardless of where they live.

These ideas are among 19 specific goals and 105 related action items found in the draft 2030 Regional Waste Plan. Anyone who lives in greater Portland can read and comment on it before it’s finalized and presented to the Metro Council for adoption.

Oregon Starts Tackling Plastic Everywhere!

Plastic bag bans are popping up all over the state! The City of Portland takes it a step further with a new ordinance aimed on reducing the use of single-use serviceware.

Plastic bags are a nuisance for the people who sort out residential mixed recycling. These unruly objects have never been an accepted item in the curbside recycling in our region, and yet sorting facilities find it showing up by the tons. Plastic bags tangle up the machinery causing recyclables to go in the wrong directions and forcing workers to shut down the system so that they can crawl down into the guts of their machinery to hand cut the tangled mess.

Plastic bags are a litter problem too. They float in our rivers and dangle from our trees. And they are life threatening for wildlife.

For these reasons, many of our local jurisdictions made the commitment to stop plastic bags at the source. The Cities of Forest Grove, Lake Oswego, Milwaukie and Portland all have bans. Plastic bag bans are popping up all over the State.

Some of these jurisdictions have also banned other problematic materials like Styrofoam take away containers. With the advocacy of Surfrider, the City of Portland has taken a new bold step in tackling single-use plastic as a category.


“This ordinance will multiply the impact we’ve seen with our grassroots Ditch the Straw PDX program, preventing millions of single-use items from entering the waste-stream,” said Nancy Nordman, Ditch the Straw coordinator of Portland Surfrider (And Master Recycler Class 58). “We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with businesses and the City to implement this policy, ultimately making a measurable reduction in waste and stopping plastic pollution at its source.”

The ordinance will include the restrictions on plastic serviceware (defined as straws, stirrers, utensils and condiment packaging) for the following situations, when applicable to the food and beverage order:

  • By request policy: In dine-in situations, plastic serviceware will be only available by request of the customer.

  • Ask first policy: In fast food, take-out and delivery situations, plastic serviceware will only be provided after the customer has been asked and confirms they want the plastic serviceware.

Notification and outreach to businesses will begin in January 2019 and the ordinance will go into effect on July 1,2019.

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A sincere Thank You to two individuals who have reported over 100 hours, making them part of the elite group of Master Recycler Centurions.



Terrence Shumaker (Class 62) started his volunteer hours writing an OpEd explaining the process of recycling for the Oregon City News. He staffed several tables with Clackamas County, engaging residents on food waste prevention. He also did a presentation at his church in Milwaukie. Then Terrence joined SAGE (Senior Advocates for Generational Equity) and began working on an amazing project where he engaged youth with special needs in projects that help them learn about the importance of the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle. By helping young adults develop job skills in materials recovery and recycling, he hopes to improve their daily living skills, job readiness and career opportunities.


Brion Hurley (Class 64) Brion spent much of his first 30 hours using a collaborative consulting approach to help solve problems and increase efficiency for some of the Master Recycler Program’s core partners (Free Geek, Scrap and the Rebuilding Center). Brion and members for those organizations walked through their buildings and just worked through problem areas - and the results have been fabulous! Since that time, Brion joined Recycling Advocates and eventually became the President of the organization. As President, Brion has been active in the Bring Your Own Cup campaign, tabling, presenting and going door-to-door to encourage local cafes embrace the reusable cup. Brion and Master Recycle Chloe Lepeltier (Class 63) joined forces and organized the very successful Zero Waste Conference this summer.

Volunteer opportunities

Planning on presenting in your own community this season? The New Dream created a series of Pre-packaged slides on Simplifying the Holiday!


Conservation News



DEQ is hosting a series of webinars to share and discuss the results of new research. 

Participation in each webinar will be capped at 30 participants in order to allow for more discussion between participants and DEQ. Individuals will need to register for webinars based on their organizational identity or function, to allow for more focused topical discussions among similar participants. As individual webinars are filled, DEQ will add additional dates and times based on demand.

Businesses, policy-makers, and the general public often rely on simple attributes to inform material selection. These attributes – such as “recyclable” or “compostable” – are widely assumed to result in reductions in environmental impacts. But how valid are these assumptions? The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently asked that question and was surprised to discover very little systematic assessment of them. So it commissioned a study – the results of which are being published this fall – that reviewed the last 18 years of global research into the environmental impacts of packaging and food service items with and without four popular attributes: recycled content, recyclable, bio-based and compostable. Collectively, the literature identified the relative environmental impacts for thousands of comparisons, from which some important trends emerge that should inform product design, procurement, and waste management programs.

David Allaway and Peter Canepa of Oregon DEQ will present the study motivation, methodology, results and recommendations, leaving plenty of time to discuss these important results with attendees.