Oregon recycling rate short of 2020 goal


Mail Tribune File Photo

Recycled materials are processed at Rogue Disposal in White City on Oct. 3, 2017.

SALEM — Oregon is unlikely to reach its goal of recycling and recovering 52 percent of the waste generated in the state by 2020.

The Statesman Journal reports that Oregonians recycled and recovered about 42.8 percent of all waste in the state in 2017. That’s just a slight increase from the state’s 42.2 percent rate in 2016.

The state’s lackluster performance emerged in a report released last week by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The rate in the annual report reflects the waste that is recovered through recycling and other means, including composting and incinerating to generate energy.

Peter Spendelow, waste reduction specialist with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, said it’s not realistic that the state will meet the 2020 recycling goal.

The change in the state’s recycling fortunes came from unanticipated circumstances.

The 2015 closure of a paper mill in Newberg that handled large amounts of wood waste has dragged down the state’s rate. Other mills have stopped accepting wood waste because of strict federal air quality rules, Spendelow said.

As a result, more contractors are taking their construction waste to landfills, at a time when the overall waste generated in Oregon is on the rise amid a booming economy.

The prospect of missing the 2020 goal doesn’t mean recycling machinery is idling. In 2017, Oregon recovered 2.3 million tons of waste for recycling, energy and composting.

Overall, Oregonians put 5.4 million tons of waste into garbage and recycling bins. That’s up 2.7 percent from 2016, but still below a pre-recession peak in 2006.

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