New recycling legislation for electronics, plastic bottles begins Jan. 1

Two new recycling laws take effect Jan. 1, aimed at reducing both plastic and electronic waste across Oregon.

Computers, monitors and televisions will be recycled free of charge under the statewide Oregon E-Cycles program, and the Bottle Bill will expand to include a 5 cent deposit on all plastic water bottles.

Electronic waste in Ashland is already recycled free of charge through a partnership between Ashland Sanitary and Recycling and ECS Regenesis, said Risa Buck, Ashland sanitary's waste reduction educator. Oregon E-Cycles will ensure funding continues to collect computer and televisions screens at the Valley View Transfer Station and, beginning in January 2010, those items will be banned from landfills completely.

Buck said she hopes the Legislature will eventually expand the program to include more electronics, such as keyboards and mouses that many stations do not accept. Broken monitor screens are not accepted because they are considered hazardous waste.

The program diverts resources used in electronics, such as copper and gold, from landfills and reduces the amount of toxic materials leeching into the environment, Buck said.

"Up until now, people have been able to just throw this stuff in the garbage, and it is a loss in a lot of ways because the materials can be repurposed," she said.

The program is funded by manufacturers of electronics in a practice known as product stewardship.

"If these manufacturers have to take responsibility for the stuff they're making, they're going to think twice about the way they do it," Buck said. "They're going to want it to be the least toxic and the most sensible, using the best materials so that they can be repurposed. If they're manufacturing something that is just garbage, it's going to come back on them, so hopefully it will raise the bar to make more efficient stuff."

Bottle Bill

With the Bottle Bill, the burden of cost falls on the consumer, who must now return empty bottles of water to collect their deposit, like they already do for glass bottles and soda cans.

Grocery stores have already updated their collection machines to accept water bottles.

"It is a little cumbersome at first, but it does make people more responsible and less things go into the landfill," said Eric Chaddock, Shop'n Kart store manager. "That forces us to change and I think that's good."

Chaddock was in the grocery business when the Bottle Bill went into effect in 1972. Back then, people seemed to be motivated mainly to get their money back, and now the drive to protect the environment has increased, Chaddock said. Several shoppers already bring their plastic bottles back to his store even though they do not receive any money for them, he said.

Statewide, however, Oregonians trash the majority of water bottles purchased. In 2005, an estimated 125 million of the 200 million bottles of water purchased were thrown away, and the numbers have continued to increase since, according to the Department of Environmental Quality.

The original bill was also aimed at reducing litter, which dropped dramatically after it went into effect. Beverage containers made up approximately 40 percent of roadside trash in 1971, and by 1979, the figure dwindled to 6 percent, according to the DEQ.

Juliun Gonzales, who was recycling Monday at Shop'n Kart, said he believes the expanded bill will help reduce litter even further.

"You see water bottles lying around on the ground everywhere," he said. "You don't see cans lying around anywhere. If they start recycling paper that would be great, too, because people would start picking that up, too."

The cost for deposits will remain at 5 cents for all glass bottles. A legislative task force recommended increasing that fee to 10 cents by 2011.

Staff writer Julie French can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or

Share This Story