Recyclers see less trash, but still too much

Workers hand sort garbage from recyclables at Far West Fibers in Portland, May 16, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Workers hand sort garbage from recyclables at Far West Fibers in Portland, May 16, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — When the city of Portland switched to a bi-weekly trash pickup, the amount of trash headed toward recyclers skyrocketed.

Far West Fibers, which handles about 74% of the city’s recycling, found everything from trash to mountains of dirty diapers.

“The amount of garbage in the recycling went up almost immediately,” said Keith Ristau, the president of the company. “It has decreased some since then.”

The process to cut down on waste being sent to recyclers has been difficult, but the progress is steady. A year ago, sorters picked out about 95 pounds of dirty diapers during each shift. But, in part because of a letter campaign by the city, that’s been cut to about 60 pounds.

“We worked with the haulers,” Ristau told KOIN 6 News. “They did a good job of watching what was coming out of the recycling bin. If they saw garbage in the bin, they would tag the cart and notify the city. The city would write a letter to that particular household. I think that was a huge help to reducing the amount of garbage.”

Recycle bins in Portland (Courtesy: Portland BPS website, May 16, 2013)

Recycle bins in Portland (Courtesy: Portland BPS website, May 16, 2013)

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is still working with problem households. They’re also seeing improvement, but another letter writing campaign is being discussed.

“I think most people want to do a good job with recycling but sometimes there’s things you just want to get rid of and there’s room in your recycling bin,” Ristau said. “Unfortunately, that’s where it ends up.”

blog comments powered by Disqus