Recycling Advocates E-Newsletter


September 2013 + +



RSVP Now for RA's Annual Meeting September 26!
Go Box, Doing Away With Throw Away
City of Portland Takes Next Step in its Plastic Shopping Bag Ban
Another BottleDrop in Oregon
SCRAP's Rebel Craft Rumble Returns
Recycling Advocates Wants to Hear Your Waste Reduction Success Stories!
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Involving people in creating a sustainable future through local efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle

RSVP Now for RA's Annual Meeting - 6:30pm September 26 at Rogue Brewery!

by Betty Patton, Recycling Advocates Board President

Recycling Advocates members and friends are invited to our Annual Meeting and campaign kickoff on Thursday September 26, 2013 at 6:30pm. Join us in the Tiki Room at the Rogue Brewery at 1339 NW Flanders. Laura Weiss of GO Box and Krysti Weddle of Natural Grocers will share their businesses approach to reducing single use containers and bags and Recycling Advocates will announce the 2013-2014 Reuse and Waste Reduction Campaign. 
Click here to RSVP and reserve your complimentary food and drink ticket!
On October 1st the City of Portland implements the next phase of the plastic bag ban. Portland's innovative cart food scene is wonderful, but can mean high consumption of single use containers and bags. 
The expansion of the bag ban to include all retail establishments is RA’s opportunity to help retailers and customers make the transition towards viable options to reduce single-use bags and containers. Recycling Advocates will work with cart owners and their customers to make the use of durable bags at food carts as ubiquitous as they are at our local grocery stores. 

Two Portland businesses that are ahead of the curve will present their approaches to reducing disposable bags and containers at our Annual Meeting.
  • Laura Weiss, Go Box: This innovative business provides reusable containers to food carts and other downtown food vendors. Prepare to be inspired by this model of reuse as Portland prepares to adopt the bag ban. (See Go Box article below.)
  • Krysti Weddle, Natural Grocers: The bag ban is new to many of us, but not to Natural Grocers, by Vitamin Cottage, who has not offered bags at their checkout since Earth Day 2009. Manager Krysti Weddle will show us how Natural Grocers thrives and continues to provide great customer service while offering no bags at their checkout.
Join us on September 26th for good food and drink and to help Recycling Advocates create a successful outreach campaign. 
Recycling Advocates’ Annual Meeting
Thursday September 26, 2013
6:30 – 8:30pm
Rogue Brewery, Tiki Room
1339 NW Flanders, Portland

Go Box, Doing Away with Throw Away

Laura Weiss, Go Box Owner will be a presenter at RA's Annual Meeting on September 26

Did you know that the food carts in downtown Portland use roughly 60,000 disposable containers every month? Nearly all end up in the landfill. Even the compostable ones. 
GO Box founder Laura Weiss loves the convenience and variety of food carts but has felt guilty about each disposable single-serving container she uses.  GO Box is Laura’s way of helping other eco-minded Portlanders reduce their lunchtime footprint.
Customers sign up at a participating food vendor for $18 a year and immediately receive their first GO Box. Once they finish eating, they drop off their box to be cleaned at one of five downtown drop sites. In exchange, they get a token that can be swapped for another reusable container.
When Weiss launched GO Box, five food cart owners participated in the venture. Now there are about 1,600 individual subscribers and 20 corporations that pay monthly fees to have GO Box drop sites in their offices. In addition, more than 75 food vendors and cafes use GO Boxes.
Weiss estimates that GO Box use has kept 25,000 disposable containers out of landfills. The city of Portland honored Weiss’ GO Boxes last year with an award for sustainable business practices.
Starting GO Box has been a learning process, Weiss says. Because she had no business model to follow, she’s been testing the waters with changes and ideas. 
Weiss plans to expand and has been contacted by businesses in other cities, including Seattle, San Francisco, New York City and Vancouver, B.C. She is pursuing a licensing model, which will allow people in other cities to launch GO Box through a license agreement with her.
“This model can work in any big, dense city,” Weiss says. “The denser the better.”
She also is in the process of creating a smartphone app that would eliminate the need for tokens by tracking the containers electronically.

Bring Your Favorite Bag to the Annual Meeting and Win a Door Prize!


RA wants to see your favorite re-usable bag, to-go container or grocery carrying device that you use to avoid those pesky single use bags and/or containers. Bring your trendy, useful or favorite bag to the Annual Meeting and we’ll vote on a winner!
The “best bags” will be announced at the meeting and the winner will get a free Go Box membership or a Natural Grocers gift certificate.
RA is featuring examples of how to do it right on our website and facebook page during the kickoff of our re-use and waste reduction campaign. Join in.

City of Portland Takes Next Step in its Plastic Bag Ban

By Rhett Lawrence, Recycling Advocates Vice-President

As most of our members and friends know, Recycling Advocates has chosen increasing reusable bag use as its primary campaign for 2013. With the Portland ban on plastic checkout bags about to expand to all retailers and restaurants on October 1, reusable bags will take on an even greater significance. As part of RA’s efforts on this issue, we will regularly focus on local businesses that are also working to increase reusable bag use and can serve as models for others. It’s just about to get a lot harder to get a plastic checkout bag when you make a quick run to the grocery store and forget your reusable bag!  As most members of the RA community know already, the Portland City Council voted in November 2012 to expand the City’s plastic bag ban to all retail establishments and food vendors (the initial ban from 2011 had only applied to grocery stores and other large retailers with pharmacies). 
The City has phased in that expansion of the bag ban and began applying the prohibition in March of this year to all retail establishments and food providers with stores greater than 10,000 square feet. Now, as of October 1, 2013, all other retail establishments and food providers will be required to comply with the City’s ordinance. 
These businesses will now only be allowed to provide recycled paper bags or reusable bags as checkout bags for customers. The recycled paper bags provided will have to contain an average of at least 40 percent recycled content and be accepted in the City of Portland curbside recycling program. 
However, the expanded policy does still exempt bags provided by a pharmacist to contain prescription medication, as well as other bags that are used to protect or separate certain items such as produce, bulk food, and meat. The City also has noted that businesses with remaining stocks of plastic bags on hand (and which don’t have additional store locations outside of Portland) can apply for a waiver to be allowed to use up that existing stock.
Recycling Advocates is happy to see this next phase of the bag ban go into effect, especially since we have chosen increasing the use of reusable bags as our organizational priority. The City of Portland has also prioritized encouraging the use of reusable bags and has distributed more than 45,000 durable reusable bags to Portland residents since 2007. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability will continue to distribute “bring-your-bag” reminders throughout Portland. 
RA will also continue looking into ways we can assist in increasing reusable bag use in Portland. Let us know if you have great ideas or would like to help out!

Another BottleDrop in Oregon 

By Betty Patton, Recycling Advocates Board President


For those of you who have been following the expansion of BottleDrop redemption centers in our newsletter, you will be pleased to hear that an additional site was opened in August at 12403 NE Glisan Street in Portland. 
A bit of background on BottleDrop: these are redemption center locations accepting all material covered under Oregon’s Bottle Bill. These centers replace the responsibility of nearby large grocers to collect the bottle bill containers from customers. The locations are within a modest distance of these grocery stores to avoid extreme inconvenience to customers.
These BottleDrop facilities are open 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, fully staffed with 8 employees at this location. Customers can use three different methods to turn in containers – staff will hand count up to 50 containers, customers can feed the new reverse vending machines with up to 350, or pre-labeled bags can be dropped off 24 hours a day for hand-counting with refunds being credited to an account for the customer. 
Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC) is the managing organization for these facilities. This company is the dominant (almost 100%) service provider to groceries and markets across the state. 
As mentioned earlier, this redemption center takes over for multiple retailers in the area. This location on NE Glisan operates so that the following five stores no longer need to accept redemption containers: 
Fred Meyer at 1111 NE 102nd
Winco at 1222 NE 102nd
Safeway at 221 NE 102nd
Winco at 1950 NE 122nd
Bi-Mart at 12321 NE Halsey
The existing three BottleDrop facilities are in Wood Village, Oregon City and South Salem. An additional site is planned for Salem soon. 
Recycling Advocates is interested in hearing from customers of these grocery stores or others that are being served by BottleDrops to get feedback from Oregon residents. Keep us posted, please.

SCRAP's Rebel Craft Rumble Returns 


By Elizabeth Goodman, Recycling Advocates Board Director
Save the date: on October 16, SCRAP's unique craft competition returns to the Hollywood Theater. 
Watch some of Portland's top DIY'ers square off, talk trash and create memorable pieces under the (glue) gun in timed battles.
Doors open at 6:30pm; the Rumble begins at 7pm and lasts until 9pm.
For more information, see

Recycling Advocates Wants to Hear Your Waste Reduction Success Stories! 

By Johnny Leuthold, Recycling Advocates Secretary

As the City prepares to expand the single use check-out bag policy to smaller retailers and food vendors on October 1st, we’re looking for stories about businesses, restaurants and food carts that are setting a good example.   Who is carrying the waste reduction banner in your neighborhood?   Send your ideas or articles to Debra Taevs at or call her at 503-889-6488.

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