Recycling Advocates E-Newsletter

October 2017 | |

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

Update on Recycling Changes
By Betty Patton, Past Chair

On Friday October 6th I attended DEQ's Recycling Stakeholder Meeting. This three-hour meeting was attended by about 40 people representing local governments, haulers, material recovery facilities (MRFs), and processors. RA may have been the only non-profit represented. The topic of discussion was the impact of China’s new rules on our paper and plastic recycling procedures.
The instigation for the most recent concerns on recycling markets nationwide is China’s new contamination rules and their intent to have governmental policing of these rules. In recent years China has created what has been called the Green Fence, eliminating the import of various mixed recyclables, including paper and plastic. They had changed their contamination laws to allow no more than 1.5% of any load to be non-paper in a mixed paper bale. The markets were still accepting higher contaminated loads, however. By January 1, 2018, China will require 0.3% or less contamination and it will be enforced by the government. By the end of October, Oregon’s MRFs will begin to stockpile the material needed to fill the ships heading to China in the first quarter of 2018, so these new requirements need to be implemented here at that time.
China is developing its own internal recycling collection procedures and methodologies, which will be able to feed their processing internally. They will have no need of imported materials, particularly if they continue to be contaminated at the 5 – 10% level as they currently are. The Portland Metro region has about 9% contamination level. In the Pacific Northwest, 75 – 80% of the mixed paper market is China. So our entire recycling system – generation, collection, separation, and processing – is heavily immediately impacted.
Some of the industry and generator actions that have resulted in difficulty to purify the stream include:
  1. Commingled set-outs (mixing paper with other non-glass containers)
  2. Collection curbside in compactor trucks (making the material harder to separate)
  3. “wannabe” recyclers (generators just assuming that an item is or should be recyclable
Some of the ideas that were shared at the meeting for improving our contamination rate and therefore our market opportunities included:
  1. more education for the generator (mostly from haulers);
  2. return to separation at the curb (mostly from processors);
  3. remove plastics from acceptable commingled list of materials;
  4. do some preliminary processing state-side, such as pelletizing plastics prior to export;
  5. in the long term, create extensive local markets to diminish reliance on China.
There was little or no time for finger pointing at this meeting. All players in this game have responsibility for getting our system to this point. All entities are focused on solutions, both short term and long term.
As a Recycling Advocates spokesperson, I could recommend more producer responsibility in the long term.
The next phase of this process is a meeting of DEQ, haulers, MRFs and processors to focus on some rapid response possibilities
Accolades to Rob Guttridge
By Betty Patton, Past Board President
Rob Guttridge

Recycling Advocates has been in existence for 30 years now. For well over 25 years, probably more like 27 or 28, Rob Guttridge has been a board member of our organization. September 2017 marks the first time he will no longer serve in that capacity. He is, however, still RA’s liaison to EarthShare, a donation umbrella of environmental organizations, and he is also on the board of directors of that group. In fact he is Vice President of that board. So we are not losing him as an active volunteer, he’s just shifting to focus on EarthShare.
Rob has ushered RA through a lot of campaigns, activities, and legislative focuses. He’s kept our organization together and functioning through a lot of ups and downs and a lot of changes, not only in RA but in the recycling and waste prevention world. He brought historical knowledge to the group that’s usually tough to find and always invaluable.
Rob has represented RA on various task forces and advisory groups. He has evaluated and commented on multiple proposed policy changes in the Metro region as well as statewide. He has been our liaison with EarthShare for years and continues to serve in that capacity. He has years of experience in the solid waste and recycling industry and an excellent grasp of policy and program impact.
For those of you who know Rob, drop him a line. Say thank you. Add comments to our Facebook page. He’s been a good foundation for this group. Please give him your accolades and gratitude.
AOR On The Road
By Bonita Davis, RA Board Member At Large

On a bright September morning, a group gathered at Metro for the Association of Oregon Recyclers On The Road Tour to the Columbia Gorge. We were about to learn firsthand about sustainability and innovation in action at three business locations. We were eagerly anticipating touring three innovative Gorge businesses and learning about their sustainability practices: Dirt Hugger in Dallesport, Double Mountain Brewery and Taproom in Hood River and The Renewal Workshop in Cascade Locks. 

Relieved that Gorge fires had been contained and I-84 reopened, the EcoBus transport time was just as important as the tour stops. Raffle tickets weren’t hard to sell for prizes of upcycled ditty bags made from sails. Opportunities to talk about your current projects and networking were designed into the ride.

Our first stop was at Dirt Hugger in Dallesport. 

Recycling With Teens: One RA Board Member's Perspective
By Denise Slattery, Board Member At Large

Denise SlatteryMy kids were raised in a household that's always paid attention to recycling and reuse and the "lifestyle" that comes along with that. While that's nothing special, because a lot of kids in the communities where we have lived have similarly been exposed to reduce, reuse and recycling behaviors, I probably, at times, pushed my passion to the limit for them. Cue the eye rolling, Cue groans. Cue sheer embarrassment.  
These boys are now what I like to call "elder teens" (19 and 17) and you'd think by now they would be used to their mother's manic sorting, scrap-saving, compost-heaping ways. No so.
I sat down with them (and their mutual friend) recently to ask about their general impressions regarding reuse and recycling behaviors amongst their peers. Granted, this is an audience of three....
Convenience makes it too easy to create more waste. 
They all agreed that everything is over-packaged but seem helpless in avoiding excess food packaging.
What I'm Reading: The Non-Consumer Advocate Blog
By Susan Mead, RA Board Secretary

The Non-Consumer Advocate Blog 

Susan MeadAfter participating in ‘The Compact’ (a social-environmental movement that encourages you to buy nothing new for a year) 10 years ago, local Portlander Katy Wolk-Stanley decided to commit to this behavior long term. She shares her frustrations and successes on her blog, ‘The Non-Consumer Advocate.’

Why do I enjoy it?
  • Katy paints a realistic view of not buying new so that it seems doable to anyone.
  • You learn about the treasure trove that is the local Goodwill stores for both new and gently used items at bargain prices, and how Katy builds her sons’ college fund by selling items she has discovered there through Craig’s List or eBay.
  • Many of the tips shared will save you money.  In fact, Katy is a paid contributor on Clark Howard’s website since they are such great ideas.
  • Her creativity in how to avoid buying new inspires me to keep my new item purchases to a minimum.
I hope you find new ways to REDUCE and REUSE by perusing The Non-Consumer Advocate blog!

Do Just One Thing: Try 
By Holly Hummel, RA Treasurer

I joined NextDoor some time ago and recently had a really wonderful experience that I’d like to share with you. I needed a car seat and a high chair. I considered doing the easy thing and buying these items but then took a chance and posted my wish list on Within an hour someone offered me a wonderful car seat and someone else offered me a booster chair, both of which are just perfect for my needs. 

So, a couple of things happened. The first and most important was that my faith in humanity and in my community was renewed. What a cool thing to ask for something and have your wish granted! 

The second really cool thing was that I didn’t buy anything and put two items to use that were no longer needed by others. The whole experience was better than ANY shopping experience I’ve ever had.  

So whether you're asking for something or have something to give away please consider using

Editor's note: is a "private social network for your neighborhood", it offers an online bulletin board for sharing neighborhood news and events, in addition to acting as a hyperlocal "Craigslist" for buying, selling, requesting or offering items. Another website/community for sharing free items and services is Portland Rooster, Rooster is a generous supporter of RA. 

Become a member of Recycling Advocates and help us continue to spread the word about waste prevention.  

Ways to Contribute:

  • By Mail: print and complete our Membership Form, mail it with your check to PO Box 6736, Portland, OR 97228-6736.
  • Visit our Website's Membership page
  • PayPal: use the button below to donate via PayPal using your credit card, bank account, or Paypal balance. 

Membership Levels 
Advocate $25 - Friend $50 - Supporter $100 - Sustainer $250
Gifts of any amount gratefully received.

Join at "Friend" level or above to be eligible to receive a Recycling Advocates/Rooster reusable coffee cup.

We thank you for your passion, support and commitment to protecting Oregon’s environment! 
Other Ways to Support Recycling Advocates

Here are some ways to contribute to Recycling Advocates that won't cost you a penny.

Fred Meyer Community RewardsFred Meyer Community Rewards: shop with your Fred Meyer Rewards Card, continue to earn your rewards points, fuel points and rebates, and Fred Meyer will donate to Recycling Advocates! Sign up here, and select Recycling Advocates, nonprofit number 90398. 

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Good Search and Good ShopGoodSearch & GoodShop: Support RA and save money at and Find store coupons, coupon codes, discounts, deals and promo codes. Join here and select Recycling Advocates. 
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