Marion County Recycling Changing, But Woodburn Staying the Same for Now

Marion County is hitting the reset button on its popular curbside recycling program. This means residents won’t be able to recycle some plastics and other items after March 5. The reset is due to the global recycling crisis caused by China’s crackdown on imported recyclable materials.

“To put the problem in perspective, it’s helpful to understand that China has for many years consumed over half of the world’s recyclable materials,” said David Lear, Mid-Valley Garbage & Recycling General Manager. “However, a significant amount of the recycled material China was getting was contaminated with food waste, garbage, and other unusable materials.”

As of Jan. 1, 2018, China made good on its promise to significantly limit the amount of material it imports from other countries. The ban created a major disruption in recycling and there is no excess capacity in worldwide recycling markets to absorb the material China no longer accepts. This leaves Marion County recycling processors, as well as other jurisdictions, with a lot of material and few markets.

“Given that this shakeup in global recycling markets is likely to continue for the near future, we have identified a short list of materials for which we know there are markets, both global and domestic,” said Will Posegate, Garten Services chief operating officer. “Our goal is to make sure that collected recyclable material is marketable and will actually be recycled and not end up in a landfill in some other part of the world. If manufacturers aren't buying certain materials, we have no choice but to throw them away.”

Mixed Recycling Roll Cart – Approved items  

1. Paper

  • Newspaper, including advertisements and paper inserts
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Magazines and catalogs
  • Junk/Direct mail
  • Boxes — cereal, cracker, cookie and shoe boxes
  • Office paper — copier and printer paper, file folders, note paper, computer paper, brochures

2. Metal

  • Steel (tin) cans
  • Aluminum cans

3. Plastic – Bottles and Jugs only — clean with lids removed

  • Beverage bottles (soda, water, juice); 12 ounces or larger only
  • Other bottles — soap, household cleaning solutions
  • Jugs — milk, juice, detergent

In our zeal to protect the planet, we've all put something in the mixed recycling roll cart and hoped that it will be recycled. This “wishful” recycling is a part of the problem. Removing items that are not on this list will play a role in the solution. Cleaning up our recycling is a community issue that not only involves putting the right material in the mixed recycling roll cart, but making sure items are empty, clean and dry. When in doubt, throw it out.

Marion County Environmental Services, the City of Woodburn, local garbage haulers and recycling processors recognize that changing the curbside program requires thoughtful re-education about contamination and materials that are no longer considered “recyclable.” Customers will soon receive new recycling educational materials.

“In making these changes to the countywide mixed recycling roll cart program, we hope to enable our customers to recycle items for which there are sustainable, accessible and affordable markets — now and into the future,” said Marion County Environmental Services Manager Brian May. “Despite the current challenges in the recycling realm, Marion County remains committed to protecting the health and welfare of our residents by providing environmentally sound solid waste management services.”

In Woodburn, the plan is being rolled out a little differently, according Republic Services General Manager Jay Lawson.

“I would like to stress that we are working hard to find the best possible solution for the challenges we face in the industry today. Local government, collectors and processors are working together in Marion County to understand and resolve these issues,” he said. “These changes that have been implemented in Salem are being released to Woodburn today as a recommendation to keep the community informed.”

Lawson added that Woodburn residents can still use their recycling bins the same as always.

“At this time we are still collecting and processing your recycling bins in the City of Woodburn as we have in the past and no changes have been implemented to your curbside service,” he said. “We will continue to partner with the City of Woodburn to keep you informed of any upcoming changes. What is important to remember is that we all have a responsibility on how we handle our recycling bins to reduce contamination. Change is necessary. The best way to practice sustainability is to use less, not moving it from one cart to another. Remember: empty, clean and dry and ‘when in doubt throw it out.’”

For more information, contact the Mid-Valley Garbage and Recycling Association at 503-390-4000 or visit www.mrtrashrecycles.com or Marion County Environmental Services at www.mcrecycles.net or email EnvironmentalServices@co.marion.or.us.

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