Portlanders are now recycling - less

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by By JOE MICHAELS, kgw.com

kgw.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 3:27 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 6 at 1:22 PM

Recycling rates

At Far West Fiber's sorting center in Hillsboro Tuesday, workers were busy -- bundles of paper were going out the door on their way to being recycled.

But local agencies are concerned because of what isn't coming in.

"We can do better with recycling. We don't like to be treading water like this," Specialist Mary Lou Perry said.

Perry, with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is monitoring recycling numbers closely. Her agency recently released it's recycling statistics for 2007.

DEQ says those numbers are going the wrong way.

Statewide, the percentage of waste that was recycled in 2007 was down a smidge to around 47 percent, which is below the state's 2009 goal of fifty-percent.

And it was a similar situation in the metro area - recycling numbers were down year-over-year to 55 percent -- and below the 2009 goal. That goal is 64 percent.

"We may have hit a plateau. I don't want to stay we're stalled out, I would say regrouping," said Perry.

DEQ says new programs are coming online that will help boost recycling efforts.

The new Oregon E-cycle program will make getting rid of electronic waste a bit easier. And the bottle bill will be expanded to include plastic bottles next year.

And there's Portland's new recycling roll carts.

Jeff Murray said "recently the metro region has pretty much changed to roll carts, and since then we believe we've seen a boost in the past several months."

Murray knows the recycling business - he's been working in it for more than thirty years.

And he says as important as recycling is, that's not the only thing to look at.

"We need to put a lot more emphasis, I believe, moving forward, on how much waste reduction is actually happening," said Murray.

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