State not meeting recycling goal


Twenty-one of Oregon's 36 counties saw recycling rates drop from 2005 to 2006 as gains in recycling were surpassed by increasing consumption.

A report from the state Department of Environmental Quality states that Oregonians generated 5.75 million tons of trash last year, a roughly 4 percent jump from the year before. Even though households and businesses are recycling more, there is a widening gap between the amount of trash produced and the amount recovered.

Oregon's overall recycling rate dropped to 47.5 percent, short of a 2009 goal of 50 percent. During 2005, Oregonians recycled slightly more than 49 percent of the material they threw away.

Recycling in three-county area near Portland dropped to 55.5 percent, sending it below Marion County, which was at 57.5 percent.

People and businesses appear to be doing better on recycling, said Mary Lou Perry, a solid waste specialist for the agency. "That's a good thing," she said. "They just have to stop generating the other half."

Oregonians generated a record-high of 3,118 pounds of waste per person in 2006.

Landfill capacity isn't a huge issue these days. But the increase in waste is a big problem for Oregon's plan to help curb global warming, which counts on meeting the trash targets.

Cutting consumption and waste helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions because it eliminates the manufacturing, mining, logging and drilling at the front end. The DEQ is considering a strategy that would suggest people opt for smaller houses, avoid cramming their homes with stuff and buy used instead of new, among other things.

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