Current recovery goals
Under Oregon's recycling laws, the state's mandatory rate of material recovery from the general solid waste stream is 52 percent for 2020. That rises to 55 percent for 2025 and subsequent years. The law also sets mandatory statewide material-specific recovery rates for:
- Food waste – 25 percent by 2020;
- Plastic waste – 25 percent by 2020; and
- Carpet waste – 25 percent by 2025.
DEQ measures the state's progress through statewide surveys and waste characterization and composition studies. DEQ must report to the Legislature on whether the recovery goals are being met.
Each wasteshed – Oregon counties, Metro, and the City of Milton-Freewater – also has its own voluntary recovery goal in statute. Wastesheds set their recovery goals through whatever methods they chose. Wastesheds' recovery goals vary from highs of 64 percent for Metro and Marion County to 20 percent in some counties.
History of recovery rates in Oregon
Besides broadening recycling requirements, the Oregon Legislature's passage of SB 66 in 1991 did the following:
- Set a statewide recovery goal of 50 percent by 2000 and interim recovery goals for individual wastesheds by 1995;
- Required DEQ to calculate material recovery rates annually to measure progress toward the 50 percent goal; and
- Required DEQ to conduct a waste composition study every other year to determine what materials are being disposed of and to inform local government recycling program planning.
Solid waste generation – the total amount of “waste" materials, whether recycled, composted or disposed – grew each year through the 1990s. The amount of materials recovered also grew steadily. But, by 2000, Oregon had not reached 50 percent recovery.
So in 2001, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 3744 (HB 3744). HB 3744 lowered the statewide recovery goal to 45 percent for 2005 and set a 50 percent goal for 2009. HB 3744 also required each wasteshed that did not achieve its 2005 or 2009 goal to conduct a technical review of its programs and determine revisions to be implemented to meet the wasteshed's recovery goal.
Further, HB 3744 set two statewide waste generation goals and added waste prevention language to Oregon law: (1) by 2005, there would be no annual increase in per capita municipal solid waste generation; and (2) by 2009, there would be no annual increase in total municipal solid waste generation. In 2010, Oregon met its 50 percent statewide recovery goal.