Advocating to Modernize Oregon’s Recycling System

Modernizing Oregon’s Recycling System (SB 582A):

UPDATE 4/16/21: The bill currently sits in the joint committee on ways and means where it will be heard. There is currently no hearing scheduled.

Overview

Oregon has an outdated recycling system that leads to public confusion about what can and cannot be recycled, and consequently, high rates of contamination. The system also places too large a burden on local communities for the end-of-life costs of materials. This bill would finally apply “extended producer responsibility” principles to Oregon’s waste system and require producers to finance much of the cost of system improvements. This bill would also:

  • establish a task force for truth in labeling and repeal labeling requirements to use the misleading chasing arrows symbol on packaging;
  • develop a state-wide recyclables collection list and educational programs to increase public understanding; and
  • improve recycling opportunities in rural areas by equalizing the cost of transporting recyclable materials to markets.

After amendments -1 and -9 and being passed through the senate committee, here’s what the bill does:

  • Establishes producer responsibility program for packaging, printing and writing paper and food serviceware.
  • Requires producers of covered products to join producer responsibility organization that implements producer responsibility program plan approved by Department of Environmental Quality.
  • Directs department to establish uniform statewide collection list for recyclable materials.
  • Establishes Oregon Recycling System Advisory Council.
  • Establishes Truth in Labeling Task Force. Repeals labeling requirements for rigid plastic bottles and containers.
  • Requires commingled recycling processing facility to obtain disposal site permit.
  • Prohibits delivery of certain recyclable materials to recycling processing facility other than permitted or certified facility.
  • Imposes civil penalty not to exceed $25,000 for each violation of provisions of Act.

A little more:

How can I support it?

Write a letter to your legislator and tell them you support the passing of SB 582A.

Find your legislator here by entering your address. Here are some talking points:

  • Talk about your experience with the confusion on labels.
  • Tell elected officials the difficulty you have with figuring out what is and isn’t recyclable in Oregon.
  • Write about how producers should share the responsibility for the recyclability of the packaging into which they put their products.

Hearing/Work Session Schedule:

  • This bill, which was presented alongside SB 14 and SB 581, was granted three full days of hearing. This is not normal and sheds some light on its importance. You can watch those hearings here, under “measure history”, which occurred on 2/23/21, 2/25/21, and 3/2/21.
  • Final hearing with the presentation of the -9 amendment happened on 4/8/21. You can revisit that hearing here.
  • Work session (when the senators or representatives in the assigned committee will have a chance to ask further questions, make edits to the bill, and potentially vote the bill out of committee for its next step on the way to becoming a law) occured: 4/13/2021. The senators passed the bill out of committee with a do pass recommendation and sent it on to the joint Ways and Means Committee where financial implications will be determined before it goes up for a floor vote. The bill is now called 582A.

You can read all submitted testimony here including the letter in support from The Environmental Center here.