Materials Management

Oregon rigid plastic container law

Oregon's rigid plastic container law was passed in 1991 as part of a comprehensive recycling and waste reduction law. Its intent was to kick-start the recycling of plastic containers in Oregon, and in that purpose it was successful. Most Oregon cities added mixed plastic bottles to their recycling curbside collection programs in the few years following passage of the law, and the recycling rate for plastic containers shot up above the 25% goal set in the law. In recent years, however, the recycling rate has slowly declined, until it bordered on 25% by 2004.

In 2006, however, the recycling rate for rigid plastic containers increased sharply, and has continued increasing into 2007. The main reason for this increase was that many curbside recycling programs began collecting recyclables in large roll carts instead of small bins, and also began collecting tubs, flower pots, and buckets in addition to plastic bottles. Both factors have significantly increased the tons of plastic containers collected from the public for recycling.

The 2007/2009 recycling rate report, released in December 2008, found that the recycling rate for rigid plastic containers had climbed to about 30% in 2007. The report further projected that the rate for the coming year will remain high for two reasons:

  1. Curbside recycling of containers is expected to continue to increase as more jurisdictions including Portland switch from bins to roll carts for recycling collection.
  2. Water bottle recycling should increase in 2009 when water bottles are added to the Oregon bottle bill.

Prices paid for recycled plastic dropped sharply in 2008, and low prices are expected to continue well into 2009. This drop in prices is expected to reduce the amount of plastic collected by commercial specialty recyclers. However, recycling of bottle bill plastic and plastic collected through curbside programs is not expected to be affected by the lower prices paid for recycling, as the public is expected to continue putting out plastic bottles for recycling and returning bottles under the bottle bill regardless of the low price being paid to those recycling that plastic. Thus, the 2007/2009 Rigid Plastic Container Recycling Rate includes a determination by DEQ that the recycling rate for compliance purposes will remain well above 25% in 2009.

Oregon rigid plastic container law