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Nov-22-2007 05:58printcomments

Report Finds Oregonians Generating Waste at Record Levels

The report provides an annual snapshot of the amounts of materials such as metal, paper, glass and organic materials that are being produced and “recovered.”

Waste reduction image
Image courtesy: Marion County Public Works Environmental Services

(SALEM, Ore. ) - Oregonians are generating waste at record-high levels, according to figures released today by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality in its 15th annual survey of garbage haulers and private recycling and composting companies.

DEQ’s Solid Waste Program, which helps Oregonians reduce and properly manage the waste they generate, produces the report each year to provide an updated look at how the state is faring in terms of waste generation and waste recovery through recycling, composting and material burned for energy recovery.

The report provides an annual snapshot of the amounts of materials such as metal, paper, glass and organic materials that are being produced and “recovered.”

The numbers are important because reduction, recycling, composting and energy recovery of waste material can result in significant greenhouse gas reductions and energy savings. Greater recovery of materials helps preserve scarce natural resources that otherwise would be used.

The numbers also help state solid waste policymakers determine more effective strategies for reducing the amount of waste produced and disposed of in the state.

Oregon’s total waste generation in 2006 reached a record high of 5.75 million tons, or 3,118 pounds per Oregonian per year. For the past two years, Oregon has failed to meet statewide goals of no increase in waste generation. From 2005 to 2006, total waste generation increased 3.9 percent.

DEQ is stepping up efforts to involve communities, businesses and individuals across the state to reassess the impact of their consumption patterns on solid waste generation.

“These trends should make all Oregonians sit up and take notice. We need to look hard at the resources we use if we want to lessen environmental impacts,” said DEQ solid waste specialist Mary Lou Perry. “The amount of materials we generate and consume has a direct bearing on the amount of greenhouse gases and other pollutants emitted into the environment.”

In 2006, the state posted a 47.5 percent recovery rate, down from 2005’s 49.1 percent and short of the 2009 goal of 50 percent. The total amount of waste recovered increased slightly in 2006, but the amount of waste generated increased even more.

Breakdown of 2006 numbers:

Based on the amount of material recycled (not including composting or energy recovery), estimated energy savings in 2006 amounted to 27 trillion Btu (British thermal units), which is the equivalent of 214 million gallons of gasoline. It is also equivalent to 2.4 percent of 2006 estimated total statewide energy use. Manufacturers save large amounts of energy when they use recycled materials instead of virgin resources.

The estimated greenhouse gas reductions from recycling, composting and energy recovery in 2006 are equal to 3.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, or 740,000 passenger cars off the road. The greenhouse gas benefits of waste recovery are partly the result of the large energy savings industries gain by using recycled materials in manufacturing.

This is a measure of total discards (recovery plus disposal) for households and businesses. (Note: While DEQ has detailed information from its survey respondents about specific recovered materials, the survey does not break down materials by tonnage generated and disposed. DEQ conducts waste composition studies, the latest having been completed in 2005, to determine the tonnages of materials disposed.)

Statewide disposal plus recovery: 5,753,962 tons. Total waste generation topped 5 million tons for the third year in a row, and per capita waste generation rose by 3.9 percent.

Statewide disposal: 3,234,619 tons. Besides a decrease in the per capita amount for the recovery of materials, Oregonians are also disposing of more wastes. Per capita waste disposal rose by 5.2 percent between 2005 and 2006.

Oregon’s 47.5 percent recovery rate includes materials collected from recycling or composting, as well as some material burned for energy recovery.

Major categories of recyclables include:
Metal: 369,281 tons recovered. The amount of recovered metal dropped 27 percent from 2005. Several factors contributed to this decrease in metal recycling, including large sales of “hoarded” metal in 2005 and sales from inventory that was collected in previous years.

Paper: 790,363 tons recovered. Overall, paper recovery is up 8 percent.

Organic material (wood waste, yard debris, food waste): 1,092,237 tons recovered. The amount of organic materials recovered increased just over 7 percent.

Glass: 96,619 tons recovered, a 2 percent increase in the past year.

Oregon remains among the nation’s leaders in solid waste recovery and recycling. Each state calculates its recovery rates differently, however, so it’s difficult to make close comparisons.

Oregon’s 1991 Legislature directed DEQ to conduct the Material Recovery and Waste Generation Survey and initially set a statewide 50 percent material recovery goal by the year 2000. The Legislature extended the deadline for meeting the 50 percent mark to 2009.

What the state is doing:
DEQ and local governments are working on several fronts to reduce waste generation and increase recovery. Local governments provide and promote the opportunity to recycle in their communities, and many offer programs aimed at increasing recovery and preventing waste as well.

DEQ is overseeing the newly formed Oregon Electronics Recycling Program. The program will make it easier for Oregonians to discard their unwanted televisions, computers and monitors through a statewide recycling program provided and financed by manufacturers of such equipment. The program will be in full operation in January 2009. For more information, see DEQ’s Web site at:

DEQ is developing a Waste Prevention Strategy, which will provide broad direction for priority work that DEQ’s Solid Waste Program will focus on in the next 10 years. DEQ is expected to have the strategy completed in early 2008. A key part of the strategy will be partnering with businesses, organizations, local governments and the public to reduce waste.

DEQ’s solid waste specialists throughout the state also provide technical assistance to businesses, trade associations, local governments and the public about cost-effective methods to prevent waste.

What consumers can do:
DEQ’s Web site offers consumers a series of tips, fact sheets and other documents they can use to help them make the best choices in dealing with their solid waste and other forms of pollution.

Go to DEQ’s Solid Waste Web page at: DEQ’s Sustainability Web page also contains additional consumer tips.

Go to to examine 10 ways consumers can prevent pollution, conserve resources and save money. There are links to such topics as Metro-area curbside recycling instructions, finding a recycler for specific materials, and a household hazardous waste collection schedule outside the Portland metro area.

Total waste recovery rates for each wasteshed, by county, region or city followed by 2009 wasteshed goal, and 2005’s rate.

  • Baker: 2006 rate: 18.8%; 2009 goal: 25%; (2005 rate: 24.8%)
  • Benton: 2006 rate: 42.5%; 2009 goal: 50%; (2005 rate: 46.0%)
  • Clatsop: 2006 rate: 35.9%; 2009 goal: 25%; (2005 rate: 40.9%)
  • Columbia: 2006 rate: 30.5%; 2009 goal: 32%; (2005 rate: 32.0%)
  • Coos: 2006 rate: 20.8%; 2009 goal: 30%; (2005 rate: 22.9%)
  • Crook: 2006 rate: 25.4%; 2009 goal: 20%; (2005 rate: 20.5%)
  • Curry: 2006 rate: 18.1%; 2009 goal: 30%; (2005 rate: 15.0%)
  • Deschutes: 2006 rate: 33.0%; 2009 goal: 45%; (2005 rate: 34.0%)
  • Douglas: 2006 rate: 29.7%; 2009 goal: 40%; (2005 rate: 30.6%)
  • Gilliam: 2006 rate: 8.5%; 2009 goal: 20%; (2005 rate: 6.7%)
  • Grant: 2006 rate: 21.3%; 2009 goal: 19%; (2005 rate: 28.2%)
  • Harney: 2006 rate: 28.0%; 2009 goal: 40%; (2005 rate: 26.8%)
  • Hood River: 2006 rate: 39.3%; 2009 goal: 25%; (2005 rate: 40.1%)
  • Jackson: 2006 rate: 39.7%; 2009 goal: 40%; (2005 rate: 37.7%)
  • Jefferson: 2006 rate: 27.7%; 2009 goal: 25%; (2005 rate: 33.1%)
  • Josephine: 2006 rate: 44.8%; 2009 goal: 38%; (2005 rate: 42.8%)
  • Klamath: 2006 rate: 33.6%; 2009 goal: 20%; (2005 rate: 37.3%)
  • Lake: 2006 rate: 19.4%; 2009 goal: 10%; (2005 rate: 14.7%)
  • Lane: 2006 rate: 53.7%; 2009 goal: 54%; (2005 rate: 53.7%)
  • Lincoln: 2006 rate: 28.3%; 2009 goal: 20%; (2005 rate: 35.3%)
  • Linn: 2006 rate: 54.7%; 2009 goal: 40%; (2005 rate: 44.2%)
  • Malheur: 2006 rate: 22.8%; 2009 goal: 22%; (2005 rate: 24.8%)
  • Marion: 2006 rate: 57.5%; 2009 goal: 54%; (2005 rate: 55.6%)
  • Portland Metro Area (Metro): 2006 rate: 55.5%; 2009 goal: 64%; (2005 rate: 58.6%)
  • City of Milton-Freewater: 2006 rate: 32.8%; 2009 goal: 25%; (2005 rate: 29.6%)
  • Morrow: 2006 rate: 21.6%; 2009 goal: 20%; (2005 rate: 14.0%)
  • Polk: 2006 rate: 51.3%; 2009 goal: 35%; (2005 rate: 54.1%)
  • Sherman: 2006 rate: 18.5%; 2009 goal: 20%; (2005 rate: 15.9%)
  • Tillamook: 2006 rate: 33.7%; 2009 goal: 30%; (2005 rate: 36.9%)
  • Umatilla: 2006 rate: 35.0%; 2009 goal: 20%; (2005 rate: 36.5%)
  • Union: 2006 rate: 35.8%; 2009 goal: 25%; (2005 rate: 29.4%)
  • Wallowa: 2006 rate: 22.2%; 2009 goal: 20%; (2005 rate: 19.5%)
  • Wasco: 2006 rate: 21.2%; 2009 goal: 35%; (2005 rate: 26.1%)
  • Wheeler: 2006 rate: 23.9%; 2009 goal: 20%; (2005 rate: 34.3%)
  • Yamhill: 2006 rate: 46.9%; 2009 goal: 45%; (2005 rate: 50.6%)

The complete “2006 Oregon Material Recovery and Waste Generation Rates Report” is available on DEQ’s Web site at: Source: DEQ

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Philipp Schmidt-Pathmann November 22, 2007 12:21 pm (Pacific time)

Energy From Waste (EFW) Incineration - What’s the deal? November 1st, 2007


Tags: Emissions • Green Power • waste reduction 1 response so far ↓

• 1 P Schmidt-Pathmann // Nov 5, 2007 at 3:00 pm It is a pleasure taking part in this conversation. Thank you for your acknowledgement. I spent the time on the response as I see the urgency to understand our current situation. I fully agree with you that not having pollution of any form in the end will be ideal. I fully support that. What many years of research have thought me though is that the magic solution does not exist. Even if we recycle everything as that will in enough cases add negatively to the environment as well. How you ask - through the amounts of energy used to recycle and the often toxic substances used in the process. We should focus our energy on producing products that are made from substances that are renewable as well as non-toxic.

I want to assure you that I was not referring to you but to society in general. Not to go into detail regarding the automotive industry … I fully agree that there is lot’s to be done - and the faster the better. But when involving “egos” nothing is fast.

With the 2% I was referring to the fly/boiler ash that in Germany is utilized to stabilize salt mines by mixing the ash into concrete. Under German law this means it is recycled. Well it would be nice not to have the product at all but knowing that it can safely be disposed of is acceptable for now.

All in all other materials besides the fly/boiler ash and energy there are also the non-ferrous and ferrous metals that are recovered at over 95% (highest in the industry), gypsum (of higher purity than natural occurring gypsum) - for use in wallboards etc, HCL @ 30% - competes just like the gypsum on the open market and the non-toxic bottom ash that can (and in Germany often is) used in the construction of streets etc.

There are no “ponds” of toxins from this process - and that is a fact - it is proven. What is much more important is that compare to landfilling - who will produce many many pools of toxins underground and above ground - and that refers to any landfills with untreated waste - as non are safe in the long run. Maybe landfills don’t leak in the lifetime or work life of the engineer that claims they are safe but for the following generations. Please note that there are virtually no or as the German Green Party etc. state - only Negliable amounts of any toxins - in the flue gases. Over 99% safe - sure we can argue about the remaining 1% but I think it makes more sense to focus this energy on other industries that pollute tremendously.

I could not agree more that it is up to the individual to make the right choice - but most individuals just follow what they learn from another marketing campaign - from the TV or advertisements. We need to change things a whole lot more a whole lot faster and the question remains - whom or what can we trust. And I think that is often why we get stuck in a rut and oppose what might work and in turn support the opposite what we did not want to support either yet take it as the lesser (so we at least think) evil.

I took my time to respond to this Blog as I hope just as its creator to stimulate thought but even though I could be from the wrong side - I ensure you that I am interested in the greater good of us all and have put my whole heart into this. I have the support of many scientists and as well as environmentalists. It is about understanding the issue and doing something about it rather than opposing everything.

It is sad but a very ironic phrase - BANANA - Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone! Well that does not work - as we have to shut down everything and if you take Europe as an example many of the proven to be safe WTE/Advanced Thermal Recycling facilities are located in the center of cities, near housing and business districts - in some cases even near some of the wealthiest housing such as in Copenhagen as it delivers valuable hot water/heat. Much to learn but please: Think before you speak - think before you act! Again look at the website and feel free to contact me.

• Chris // Nov 6, 2007 at 8:36 am Hi P Schmidt-Pathmann Thanks again for another highly informative response. Thermal recycling technology is “growing on me” quite rapidly as I learn more about the successes of this technology (mostly from your comments and website). I thank you very much for providing some great information. My blog has benefited greatly from your comments and I do hope many more visitors check out your comments. Please feel free to contribute to my site any time, I welcome your input on any subject that I might discuss here.
Thanks again!

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