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Top Recycler Lane County Seeks To Limit Food Waste During Shut-Down

Eat Smart Waste Less

When it comes to recovering recyclables out of the trash, Lane County is again ranked best in Oregon. While that’s good news, waste managers say we’ve still got a ways to go. Stay at Home orders have added new challenges in the effort to reduce waste.

Since the governor’s restrictions came down, folks have been making an abundance of trash. The Glenwood transfer station, for example, is averaging about 400 more customers a week.

Jeff Orlandini is a division head for Waste Management in Lane County. He says these days, there is one particular culprit.

“It’s the organics. And so what we want folks to do is focus on food waste,” Orlandini said. “Food in general is about 18% of the waste stream that we see at Short Mount landfill. You know, that’s a very large greenhouse gas producer.”

Credit Lane County Waste Management
Jeff Orlandini has been with LC Waste Management for over 5 years.

Orlandini acknowledges his own grocery bills are up as his family also stays in and cooks more. He says everyone can help limit food waste. Some tips? Arrange highly perishable items up front in the fridge and pre-plan menus to actually consume all of the food you buy.

The coronavirus pandemic has had other impacts on waste management. Major recycling partners like BRING and Saint Vincent DePaul and other thrift stores had to close their collections services because they could not be safely staffed. (update: St. Vinney's opened two locations for small donations 04/28/20)

Orlandini says they are seeing some large items that would normally be donated-  now being dumped. He hopes people will hang on to donatable items until restrictions relax and businesses re-open.

It is estimated that per capita the waste generation in Lane County is about 3,156 pounds. That’s nearly a ton and a half of waste per person and about a 25% increase since 2013.

“That’s a trend that isn’t unique to Lane County, but it’s certainly alarming that we are wasting so much [every year.]

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) collects data to measure recovery rates of recyclables. The most recent reporting, ending in 2018, finds Lane County recycled and composted 53.8% of its trash. The goal is to get to 63% by 2025.



Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and worked in a variety of media including television, technical writing, photography and daily print news before moving to the Pacific Northwest.
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