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Plastics Recycling Evolves In Lane County

Karen Richards, via Zoom

After a pause, Lane County’s community plastics collection is up and running again, though many collectors have dropped out for health reasons.

The program asks people to amass a large volume of clean plastic before handing it to a trained collector. Lane County Master Recycling Coordinator Kelly Bell said that’s been a good thing.

“Instead of things going to the curb every week," she said, "it’s giving folks an opportunity to pause, and to really rethink their purchases.”


Bell said people “get” the visual impact of how much salsa they ate, or how much cottage cheese they threw out.


“Food waste has a much higher impact," said Bell. "It’s more intensive in every respect in terms of pollution and water use and labor. Plastic isn’t the enemy it’s how it’s used and how it’s disposed of.”


Bell said people can also help by asking elected officials to mandate uniform resins for, say, yogurt tubs, or require some industries to use recycled plastic. 


During the pandemic, business waste has been way down, and residential waste has increased, but overall, waste acceptance in Lane County is down about 10 percent. Bell said cleaning out homes and garages has been very popular, and so people should avoid Saturdays and Mondays at the dump. 


Bell said plastic use in the United States is actually increasing, and more plants are being built. She points to information from Bring Recycling about how to contact legislators, and encourage them to make laws that mandate more corporate responsibility for plastics use. 


Anyone interested in becoming a community collector can send an email to plasticscollection@lanecountyor.gov.




Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.
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