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Representatives from Republic Services respond to Marion County's announcement of recycling changes

COURTESY PHOTO - Trash piles up at the Marion County Energy-From-Waste Facility in Brooks, which processes 550 tons per day of municipal solid waste.Republic Services' General Manager Jay Lawson wants Woodburn residents to know that locally, things are not changing to the curbside recycling service — not immediately, anyway.

"I would like to stress that we are working hard to find the best possible solution for the challenges we face in the industry today," he said in a city e-newsletter. "Local government, collectors and processors are working together in Marion County to understand and resolve these issues. These changes that have been implemented in Salem are being released to Woodburn today as a recommendation to keep the community informed."

Lawson added that Woodburn residents can still use their recycling bins the same as always.

"At this time we are still collecting and processing your recycling bins in the city of Woodburn as we have in the past and no changes have been implemented to your curbside service," he said. "We will continue to partner with the city of Woodburn to keep you informed of any upcoming changes. What is important to remember is that we all have a responsibility on how we handle our recycling bins to reduce contamination. Change is necessary. The best way to practice sustainability is to use less, not moving it from one cart to another. Remember: Empty, clean and dry and 'When in doubt throw it out.'"

Changes to your curbside recycling are imminent, with some plastics and other items no longer recyclable.

Marion County's reset of the program is due to the global recycling crisis caused by China's crackdown on imported recyclable materials, a press release stated.

"To put the problem in perspective, it's helpful to understand that China has for many years consumed over half of the world's recyclable materials," said David Lear, Mid-Valley Garbage & Recycling general manager, in the release. "However, a significant amount of the recycled material China was getting was contaminated with food waste, garbage, and other unusable materials."

As of Jan. 1, China made good on its promise to significantly limit the amount of material it imports from other countries. The ban created a major disruption in recycling and there is no excess capacity in worldwide recycling markets to absorb the material China no longer accepts. This leaves Marion County recycling processors, as well as other jurisdictions, with a lot of material and few markets.

Waste management service providers have identified a short list of materials for which there are markets, both global and domestic, the release said. The goal is to make sure that items that are recyclable are actually recycled and don't end up in a landfill in another part of the world.

Approved recycling items include:

1. Paper (newspaper, including advertisements and paper inserts; corrugated cardboard; magazines and catalogs; junk/direct mail; cereal, cracker, cookie and shoe boxes; and office paper (copier and printer paper, file folders, note paper, computer paper, brochures)

2. Metal (steel/tin and aluminum cans

3. Certain plastics (clean bottles and jugs with lids removed; 12 ounces or larger only of beverage bottles; soap, household cleaning solutions bottles; and jugs of milk, juice and detergent.

The press release warns against indiscriminately throwing things in the recycling cart without knowing if they're truly recyclable.

"This 'wishful' recycling is a part of the problem," the release states. "Cleaning up our recycling is a community issue that not only involves putting the right material in the mixed recycling roll cart, but making sure items are empty, clean and dry. When in doubt, throw it out."

The release said that customers will soon receive new recycling educational materials from their waste management provider.

"We hope to enable our customers to recycle items for which there are sustainable, accessible, and affordable markets — now and into the future," said Brian May, Marion County Environmental Services Manager. "Marion County remains committed to protecting the health and welfare of our residents by providing environmentally sound solid waste management services."

For more information, contact the Mid-Valley Garbage and Recycling Association at 503-390-4000 or www.mrtrashrecycles.com, or Marion County Environmental Services at www.mcrecycles.net or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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