Lane County announced a change to its recycling plan, which is now in effect.
The changes introduced mean that many Lane County residents with curbside recycling carts can add #1 and #2 plastic bottles, jars and jugs to their recycling. This also represents all transfer stations in Lane County.
However, Cottage Grove Garbage Service has announced that it will not be adding #1 and #2 plastic to its curbside recycling until rules regarding new recycling legislation in the form of the draft Senate Bill 582 be formulated.
The bill directs the Department of Environmental Quality to study and make recommendations to modernize Oregon’s recycling system. The results of the study must be reported to the Oregon Legislative Assembly’s interim committees by September 15, 2022.
The county’s expanded list of items – which must be clean, dry and larger than a tennis ball – joins the stream of recyclable materials after being excluded in 2018, following a global recycling market crisis . Since then, the market and the sorting process have improved, according to Angie Marzano, Lane County Waste Reduction Program Supervisor.
“Since the crisis, local materials recovery facilities (MRFs) have been working to add additional machinery and state-of-the-art technology to sort and clean 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 larger, non-returnable items, such as large jugs of detergent and juice containers, to be recycled as well.
Kelly Bell coordinates the efforts of the Lane County Master Recycler and sees the change as a step towards eventually accepting, at some point in the future, most materials for recycling.
Once the plastic is collected, the material is taken to a local reloading facility where it is baled and transported to facilities such as WestRock, a Portland-based MRF. WestRock sorts single-stream recycling materials for sale to end buyers.
“A big driver of change is technology-based,” Bell said. “There are new technologies that use lasers and special cameras that can look at the materials on the tape and see what’s collected and what condition it’s in. So now they know what packages are cereal boxes. or cardboard or mixed materials.That means they can do a much better job of sorting things out and getting them to the right seller for purchase.
Another aspect of change is the public focus on recycling, which has increased since shipments to China were halted and the Plastics Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act was passed in 2021. The law 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 modernize facilities that sort recyclable materials.
The Lane County Waste Management Division has produced and released a new video detailing the current recycling plan and offering suggestions for 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 cups
• no plastic bags
• no clamshell containers
• no prescription bottles
• no bottles or cans of engine oil
• no plastics stamped with the numbers 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7.
Bell also wanted to remind those who recycle to thoroughly clean and dry items to be recycled and to familiarize themselves with currently accepted materials.
“If in doubt, leave it out,” she said. “Everyone has a role to play in this process and we just want people to have the right information to make it as easy as possible.”
To watch the video updating consumers on items now being 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 located at 2820 Rhododendron Dr. and is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m..