Materials Management Legislation Sets Oregon Toward a New Vision

Imagine a day when Oregonians live well and prosperously, producing and using materials responsibly, conserving resources, and protecting the environment and climate. Imagine a day when we recognize that the earth’s resources are finite and we begin living and working within those limits, ensuring that future generations have the same opportunities as we do.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and a diverse range of stakeholders worked to create and adopt this vision and called it,Materials Management in Oregon: 2050 Vision and Framework for Action.

Last month, the Oregon Legislature passed SB 263 and SB 245, which will turn our state and cities towards a robust implementation of the 2050 Vision.

What do the new bills mean? These are comprehensive bills that get quite technical. They provide goals, requirements and a revenue stream to help meet the vision. Here are a few highlights:

  • Updates the waste recovery goals for the state and cities and, for the first time, sets recovery goals for specific materials (plastics, food and carpet).
  • Ensures that commercial and residential tenants have the same opportunity to recycle that property owners have.
  • Adds level of contamination to recycling as a measurement of success.
  • Shifts focus from primarily waste to the full life of materials (extraction, manufacturing, transportation and discards).
  • Adds alternative measurements of success from just looking at tons of recovery or waste generation to true environmental impacts such as energy savings, pollution and health impacts and carbon emissions.
  • Aims to reduce the generation of waste to 40 percent below 2012 levels.
  • Includes infrastructure, technical assistance and revenue to support repair and reuse as well asedible food rescue and other food waste prevention.

Keep up with how Master Recyclers can participate in the implementation of these changes through the Master Recycler newsletter, blog and Facebook page. There will be advisory committees and well as education and involvement campaigns that would welcome your knowledgeable participation.

Those of you looking to work in this field will be particularly interested in watching the Master Recycler Job Board. (There is a position in there now!) Over the next 18 months, DEQ expects to hire 10 new staff (3 vacancies, 7 new positions) in some of the following areas: policy analysis, stakeholder engagement, product stewardship and extended producer responsibility, reuse/repair/product lifespan extension, environmental product declarations and product environmental footprinting, sustainable production, food waste prevention, sustainable consumption, household hazardous waste, toxics reduction, sustainable purchasing, plastics recovery, food waste recovery, multi-tenant recovery, outcome-based goals and measures, consumption-based greenhouse gas and ecological footprint accounting, life cycle analysis, grants coordination and public outreach.