Oregon suspends curbside recycling

Published: Sep. 24, 2019 at 4:40 PM EDT
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Oregon City Council approved a plan Monday night that will turn residents' recycling bins into garbage cans come December 1st. And council members say it wasn't an easy decision.

During council’s regular meeting, Mayor Michael Seferian defended council’s concern: "The majority of it would be landfilled anyway, for $400,000 or $500,000? That's crazy."

Council unanimously voted to switch from Waste Management, and begin a five-year contract with Republic Services for curbside trash pickup. The contract doesn’t include recycling, and council members say it was a tough decision.

Mike Beazley, Oregon’s City Administrator tells 13abc, "Nobody here loved that decision or loved that process, but the math was compelling to the council."

So, starting in December, if Oregon residents want to continue to recycle, they'll have to drive to a recycling center. For residents like Mary Brinkman, that’s a weekly chore anyway.

Brinkman says, "We come and recycle cardboard and stuff like that that we can't do in our other tub." So, for her family, the change won’t mean much hassle. But other residents disagree.

But council isn't saying goodbye to curbside recycling forever. Council members say they'll explore their options every year.

Councilman Tim Zale explains, "We decided that we would put aside money in our budget each year so that in case the recycling does come back around, we'll have the money to jump back in and do it."

The decision comes after years of improper recycling habits. As residents put the bins out to the street, they're putting out glass, dirty containers, and non-recyclables; all things that contaminate the load. And that means that, rather than being recycled, those items end up in a landfill.

Mike Beazley says, "I guess what I feel worst about, we were part of the generation that went, 'when in doubt, put it in the bin.' We were wrong. That market changed, and that world changed."