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Oregon's new Recycling Modernization Act updates and overhauls Oregon’s recycling system

Modernization act

For years, manufacturers and producers have known that much of the packaging they market to consumers is not readily recyclable. Several types of plastics, for example, are either too difficult to recycle or cannot be recycled at all — with much of it ending up overseas. With the recently passed Senate Bill (SB) 582, the Oregon Legislature has committed to changing that — making Oregon a leader again in recycling innovation.

What is SB 582 and how does it work?

Simply put, the Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act creates a more stable, consistent and affordable recycling system in Oregon. The bill would make it so manufacturers of paper and plastic packaging products (PPPs) would have to help pay for Oregon recycling programs. Costs to producers would be based on what materials they use and how much of those materials they sell in the state. Fees are higher for non-recyclable products, as well as those with greater environmental and social impacts.

According to one of the bill’s chief sponsors, “The importance of this policy is that we can’t recycle our way out of the waste that we produce.” The idea is that by demanding greater accountability of packaging manufacturers for the social and environmental damage their products create, there will be strong incentives to use more environmentally sustainable materials, ultimately reducing or removing unnecessary packaging altogether wherever feasible.

One state, one list

A comprehensive list of what can be recycled curbside across the state is another of the bill’s features. This will provide clarity for consumers and put recycling programs statewide — including Rogue Disposal & Recycling — on the same page. By providing a definitive list of which materials are accepted at the curb, people will be better able to recycle right and keep the recycling stream clean.

And even though the list will cover the entire state, the bill also provides for maintaining local government authority over solid waste management.

Adding more recyclers to the mix

Another feature of SB 582 is an expansion in recycling services to cover people living in underserved communities, such as rural areas with limited access and people living in multi-family housing.

“Can it really be recycled?”

This measure establishes a Truth In Labeling taskforce to study and evaluate misleading claims about the true recyclability of different packaging products. Recommendations from this group will be submitted to the Oregon Legislature no later than June 1, 2022. Countless numbers of everyday products on the market currently tout their packaging as being recyclable, when in reality it’s not.

A new era for recycling in Oregon

Always a leader in the area of recycling, SB 582 aims to take Oregon’s efforts to a whole new level. The law includes a variety of other benefits too, and officially takes effect on January 1, 2022, with new programs rolling out statewide by July 1, 2025.

To learn more, download this informational fact sheet from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

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