Lane County No. 1 in state when it comes to recycling versus throwing trash away
EUGENE, Ore. - Lane County residents recycled as much waste as they tossed in the garbage in 2016, a 50/50 split that ranked No. 1 out of Oregon's 36 counties.
Lane County, home of Oregon's second most-populous city, recycled 258,370 tons of material, compared to the 258,041 tons sent to the landfill.
Marion County, with Oregon's third most-populous city, was right behind at 49.4 percent.
Ron Bevirt is a long-time recycler.
"I think I'm fairly typical of a lot of Eugeneans," he said.
But he said he doesn't think Lane County needs to be No. 1.
"It's something that we don't need to be the leader: We ought to be one among everybody that recycles, as much as we do here," he said.
Lane County last led the state in recycling rate in 2011 with 55 percent.
The goal by 2025 is for the county to consistently hit 63 percent of materials in the recycling stream.
"We feel that without setting a goal there's less motivation," said Sarah Grimm, waste reduction specialist for Lane County.
One stumbling block in the way: Changes in the global plastics recycling market, driven by changes in consumption by China.
"We believe that we'll be able to be recycling our plastics again within a year or so," Grimm said. "I'm an optimist."
So how is the county going to reach that 63 percent mark?
"From high quality curbside collection service providers, to 800 master recyclers in our community, to the non-profit recyclers as well," Grimm said.
Beyond not filling the landfill, what does a quarter million tons of recycling mean for the environment?
"We were able to effectively prevent greenhouse gases to the tune of, equivalent to 155,000 cars annual emissions," Grimm said.