Materials Management

DEQ has adopted a Waste Prevention Strategy to set priorities and define direction for its work in waste prevention.
Oregon law defines waste prevention and reuse as the top priority methods for managing solid waste, and Oregon statute establishes waste generation goals – first to stop the growth in per capita solid waste generation and ultimately to stop the growth in total solid waste generation. DEQ has prepared its Waste Prevention Strategy to identify priority areas of waste prevention work and project initiatives that the Department proposes to undertake over a ten-year period. This work is being done to protect the environment through prevention of solid waste generation and associated “upstream” (resource extraction and production of goods) and “downstream” (end-of-life/waste management) impacts.

2050 Vision for Materials Management

DEQ is developing a long-term Vision for Sustainable Materials Management in Oregon to provide a foundation for updating the state’s Solid Waste Management Plan. This effort seeks to reduce environmental impacts by managing materials throughout their lifecycle, including extraction, production, use and end-of-life management. Waste prevention will be included as part of the Vision.

For more information contact Abby Boudouris at 503-229-6108

 

Green building

Materials from construction, remodeling, and demolition projects are a significant contributor to waste in Oregon, and buildings themselves and the materials used to make them have significant environmental impacts. Using lifecycle analysis, DEQ evaluated waste prevention practices (reduction or reuse of materials) in residential buildings to determine which practices have the largest environmental benefits over the life of a home.

Results indicated that among the 30 different material reduction and reuse practices evaluated, reducing home size and multi-family living achieved the largest greenhouse gas reductions along with significant reductions in other impact categories. DEQ also found that material reuse significantly reduces the amount of waste generated and material-related impacts of production but provides limited greenhouse gas reductions over the home’s life because reuse does not typically affect the operational energy consumption of a home, as do other practices evaluated. For a more detailed summary of results, please see the Green Building page link below.

 

Following the completion of the peer reviewed research, DEQ worked collaboratively to incorporate the benefits of smaller homes into the Oregon REACH building code and Earth Advantage’s green building rating system. We’re currently working to align existing green building incentives with the relative environmental benefits of certain practices. We’re also working with stakeholders to identify actions to increase the supply and demand for space-efficient housing, which includes small (<1500sqft single family dwellings), accessory dwelling units, and density driven remodels.

For more information contact Jordan Palmeri at 503-229-6766

 

Packaging waste prevention 

DEQ is continuing to share information about packaging waste prevention, in part through our packaging waste prevention website. We are also advising Wal-Mart’s efforts to drive sustainability improvements through its supply chain as a participant in the Steering Committee of Wal-Mart’s Sustainable Packaging Value Network.

 

For more information contact David Allaway at 503-229-5479

 

Drinking water life cycle assessment 

Water is a necessary good for consumption, and bottled water is ubiquitous – nearly everyone can relate to it. Water bottles are also one of the fastest-growing components of waste generation: 32 million bottles disposed in Oregon in 1998, rising to 126 million disposed in 2005. There is growing interest in the impacts of bottled water, but limited transparent evaluation as to its impacts, particularly for the United States. Oregon is one of 11 states with a “bottle bill”. After several decades, the Oregon Legislature in 2007 amended the bottle bill to include water and flavored waters. These beverage containers were added to the bottle bill effective January 2009, and it is widely expected that recycling of this packaging type will increase dramatically.

DEQ has completed a life cycle inventory and impact analysis of options for delivering drinking water to consumers. The LCA evaluates and compares the environmental impacts of providing drinking water via single-serving bottles, drinking water from 5-gallon reusable water coolers using a cup or bottle that is washed at home, and drinking tap water using a cup or bottle that is washed at home. Within each of these water delivery scenarios the LCA is analyzes variables such as packaging material (such as PET plastic vs. “corn plastic” PLA vs. glass), recycled content, distance traveled, end-of-life recycling rate, and others. The LCA was conducted by Franklin Associates (with the University of Michigan as a subcontractor), and conforms to all requirements of the ISO standards for LCA, including an independent critical review by an external panel.

This LCA provides an opportunity to improve Oregonians’ understanding of the benefits of recycling relative to disposal, and also the trade-offs between prevention, reuse, and recycling.

For more information contact Abby Boudouris at 503-229-6108

 

Materials and greenhouse gases

Significant discussions are currently underway regarding how to best respond to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, including program and policy approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

DEQ's Solid Waste Program is undertaking research to better understand how production and consumption of materials (and generation of wastes) in Oregon contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. This research should help to identify a prioritized field of approaches that Oregon governments, businesses, and residents might apply to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – for example, through approaches such as “sustainable consumption”, supply chain management, material selection in green building, waste prevention, product stewardship, and expanded recycling.

This work includes the development of a consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions inventory for Oregon. By better understanding the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from consumption in Oregon, Oregonians can better understand opportunities to reduce climate change impacts through waste prevention.

For more information contact David Allaway at 503-229-5479