Recycling Advocates E-Newsletter


July 2013 + +

Involving people in creating a sustainable future through local efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle


At Long Last, the 2013 Oregon Legislature Reaches The End

by Rhett Lawrence, Recycling Advocates Board Vice-President

On Monday, July 8, the 2013 session of the state legislature finally came to a close. We knew going into the session that there were few items of interest to the Recycling Advocates community. But a few things did happen, and not all of them were bad!
On the good side, two pieces of legislation related to the Bottle Bill did pass: (1) SB 117 sets out standards for the new redemption centers the industry stewardship organization is establishing; and (2) SB 112 gives OLCC improved enforcement and oversight authority related to the Bottle Bill.  Both of these bills were essentially fine-tuning of the larger modernizations of the Bottle Bill that RA helped pass in 2007 and 2011. Another positive outcome was the passage of HB 2048, a paint product stewardship bill that reauthorized the pilot program that passed in 2009.
Several other bills of interest to RA failed to pass, including HB 2938, which would have established a producer responsibility system for rechargeable batteries (to improve upon the voluntary "Call2Recycle" program). In addition, a bill to promote plastics pyrolysis by characterizing it as recycling (HB 2438) was reintroduced this session, but never made it out of committee, perhaps fortunately.
Most disappointing to RA was the death of SB 113, which would have enacted a statewide ban on plastic checkout bags and added a nickel to paper bags. RA had some early involvement with this legislation introduced by our partners at Environment Oregon and the Surfrider Foundation. Unfortunately, after the defeat of a similar effort in the 2011 session, the task of mounting the aggressive legislative campaign necessary to pass the bill proved too formidable. We will re-evaluate our efforts with our coalition partners and consider whether to try again in a future legislative session.
Sometimes, merely making it out of a session without any major upheavals or defeats is about all we can ask for. We had a few minor successes from the Legislature and a few missed opportunities, so things could have been a lot better – and a lot worse!


Charting Your Course in Stormy Recycling Seas

By Kris Olson, Recycling Advocates Board Member, and Betty Patton, Recycling Advocates President

Portland Metro residents have a lot of recycling options beyond our extensive curbside opportunities. In addition, we have depots, businesses and transfer stations that collect a lot of recyclable products from the public that aren’t part of our curbside mix. The downside to these opportunities is that those markets do not stay constant. This translates into ever-changing rules for the public. Always call the collection facility to verify the current list of acceptable materials. Rules in effect as I am writing this could change by the time this newsletter is delivered to you.
For example, Far West Fibers operates multiple sites in the Metro region. Currently, they do not accept most rigid plastics, plastic bags and film, media plastics, and black or colored #1 PETE. Check the rules at or call Metro’s Recycling Information Center at 503-234-3000for for up to date information.
Business decisions and political changes worldwide create a ripple effect outside of our control. RA encourages support of local businesses that offer these additional services when possible... and don’t blame them when rules change!
Recycling Advocates’ mission statement lists waste reduction first! Be aware of any non-recyclable materials that you need to dispose of. Where did they come from? Why do we need them? What are our opportunities to avoid generating these in our houehold and office in the future? Alternatives might be to buy in bulk, buy at farmer’s markets, and use reusable water bottles, lunch or doggie bag containers. Focus on reduction and share your ideas at By posting your tips in the newsletter or on our website, we can share your expertise with all of our readers.
Products collected curbside in the Metro region have consistent markets and reliable regional programs. Capturing these mainstream recyclable products goes a long way towards reaching our diversion goals. Maximize those opportunities, reduce non-recyclable materials, and use the additional services when offered. And thank the companies for offering to collect them.

RA Welcomes New Resource Director! 

By Kris Olson, Recycling Advocates Board Member


Recycling Advocates (RA) has hired Debra Taevs as a contract Resource Director. Ms. Taevs will provide administrative management and outreach support.
Debra has extensive management experience with environmental and collaborative waste reduction programs, including as Co-Director of the ResourceFULL Use industrial ecology program, Oregon Director of the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center and as consultant, trainer, presenter and published author on numerous sustainability projects. Debra has a Masters of Public Administration in Environmental Policy, a BA in Business Administration and education in environmental and solid waste management.
"We are thrilled to bring Debra on-board and we're looking forward to this next phase of development in growing our organization," says Betty Patton, chair/president of Recycling Advocates.

"Like" Recycling Advocates on Facebook!

By Kris Olson, Recycling Advocates Board Member


RA is still grassroots. We have long-term Board members who can tell you off-the-top-of-their-head about the organization's many accomplishments. These folks can rattle-off scores of waste and recycling contact names at the county, city, state and private level. These relationship resources and “tribal knowledge” is worth its weight in gold when trying to make things happen! Our aim is to share some of these morsels on our new Facebook page. As waste and recycling industry news, legislation and policy updates continue to push us into action; you'll find our latest perspective on Facebook. You'll also continue to find our updates on our Web site and monthly newsletters. 

L.A. Bans Plastic Bags

by Debra Taevs, Recycling Advocates Resource Director
July 2, the Los Angeles City Council voted by a landslide (9-1) to ban free plastic bags in grocery stores as of January 1st 2014. Smaller stores have until June 2014 to comply. This ban applies to convenience stores, supermarkets and large retailers like Wal-Mart. Stores can be fined $500 for defying the ban.
L.A. is now the largest city in the U.S. to "ban the bag" in grocery stores. Shoppers have the option to BYOB (bring their own bags) or pay 10 cents for paper bags. The 10 cent fee goes to the stores to help offset the costs of complying with the ordinance. Stores are required to submit reports quarterly on the number of paper bags purchased. By the end of 2014 over 30% of California's population will be covered by laws that regulate plastic and paper bags.
A reported $2 million is spent annually to clean up plastic bag litter in Los Angeles with more than 228,000 bags being distributed every hour. According to Heal the Bay, California spends $25 million each year to landfill plastic bags, with only 5% of single use plastic bags recycled.
Councilman Paul Koretz hopes that the L.A. Ban will lead to similar initiatives. "Los Angeles is often a trendsetter. This could be a model for the rest of the country." L.A.'s program includes giving away a million reusable bags in low-income areas of the city.
Plastic bag bans are gaining popularity. The first statewide ban was passed by Hawaii in 2012, although a similar measure failed in the California Legislature in May. Portland, Seattle, Santa Monica, San Francisco and many other cities in Oregon and around the world already have plastic bag bans.
Upstream environmental impacts from manufacturing paper bags including energy use, greenhouse gases, solid waste and water are much greater than plastic bags. The message should be to switch to reusable bags and not back to paper.
The impact of plastic bags in the environment is substantial with many ending up in the ocean, being eating by animals, such as sea turtles that mistake them for jellyfish. San Francisco's Save the Bay states that plastic bags entangle suffocate and poison at least 267 known animal species worldwide. Plastic bags also have a negative impact on recycling processes and increase costs by jamming expensive equipment.
Recycling Advocates applauds L.A.’s efforts and reminds readers to remember their re-usable bags.


by Elizabeth Goodman, Recycling Advocates Board Director
Repair PDX has taken off.  The official launch of Portland’s Repair Café took place on June 20 at Ford Food and Drink in Southeast Portland.  About 50 people came bearing too-good-to-throw-away household items, from jewelry and clothing to appliances and bicycles.  We knew it would happen.  Portland is a perfect city to support an effort to restore non-functioning items to use, and to share and draw on talent latent in its community.
The next Repair Café is scheduled for Saturday, July 27, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 5431 NE 20th Avenue, Portland, home to the Northeast Portland Tool Library.
For more information and to register for the event, go to (  You will also find there links to Carrie Sturrock’s June 14 article in The Oregonian and to KPTV’s piece on the June 20 event.

Trashion Summer Camp

by Elizabeth Goodman, Recycling Advocates Board Director
SCRAP will present Junk to Funk's Trashion Camp this summer, on August 12 to 16.  This program is open to 12- to 18-year-olds.  Using cast-offs and SCRAP materials, participants will innovate and create wearable fashions.  At the end of the week, these young designers will present a trashion show for family and friends.  For additional details and to register, click here.

Want to Volunteer?

RA would love to hear from you! We are looking for a few great volunteers to help 1-2 hours/week with the following! 

Planning RA's Annual Member Celebration. 
Communications and social media
Plastic bag ban campaign
Recruiting Board members
Please contact Debra Taevs at 503-777-0909 or, and thank you!

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