WASHINGTON COUNTY, Oregon — Ridwell, a Seattle-based startup that picks up hard-to-recycle items from households around the Portland metro, has been ordered to stop service in unincorporated Clackamas and Washington Counties.
"Both jurisdictions have asked us to stop operating," said Caleb Weaver, Ridwell's vice president of public affairs. "That's disappointing. From our perspective, we don't believe we need to stop operating."
The company picks up items you can't recycle with your standard curbside pickup — things like plastic to-go containers, light bulbs or batteries. The company says it has kept more than 3 million pounds of trash out of landfills.
Ridwell's website claims more than 20,000 members in Portland.
But local garbage haulers and recyclers say the company is skirting regulations their companies have to follow. Ridwell argued because it is picking up items that standard trash haulers won't accept, it is operating legally. The Oregon Refuse and Recycling Association said its haulers have long been working with regulators to expand curbside recycling to include those harder-to-recycle items, but under their current contracts they aren't allowed.
"The issue we should be discussing is the best way to handle these harder to recycle items so that all Oregonians can participate in a program - and the haulers have been actively working to expand curbside recycling before Ridwell tried to enter through a backdoor skirting regulation," the Oregon Refuse and Recycling Association told KGW in a statement.
Weaver said his company is willing to comply with local regulations, and is currently in discussions with both counties to come up with a resolution.
"The reality is we need to use some creative thinking to tackle these waste challenges," Weaver said.