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Recycling Success Story—Beaverton, Oregon

Image of Beaverton, Oregon skyline.Community Profile: Beaverton, Oregon, is located just west of the City of Portland, Oregon. With a population of 83,000, it is a representative suburb located near a major metropolitan area. Beaverton has a low unemployment rate of 4.6 percent. The average price of a single-family home is just under $200,000, though 52 percent of the community lives in multi-family housing (buildings with five or more housing units).

Recycling Success: Beaverton provides recycling opportunities for single-family households, multi-family dwellings, and commercial establishments. This three-pronged program will help the community increase its 2004 recycling rate of 59 percent to meet the regional waste diversion goal of 64 percent by 2009. The city provides community education services regarding waste disposal, recycling, and waste prevention, including outreach to encourage residents and businesses to recycle.

Three staff members oversee program education and outreach initiatives: Scott Keller, program manager; Stephen Sykes, multi-family outreach specialist; and Cindy Tatham, commercial outreach specialist. They visit local housing complexes, commercial establishments, and manufacturing establishments regularly to review recycling programs and explore ways to increase recycling.

Program Organization: Beaverton uses a hauler franchise system, contracting with seven private haulers that provide the city’s solid waste and recycling services. Each hauler serves an exclusive territory within the city, including the single-family households, multi-family complexes, and commercial establishments within that territory. One hauler provides service to approximately 80 percent of the community, with the remaining customers served by the other six haulers.

The local government, pursuant to periodic audits of the haulers’ records, determines collection costs of solid waste and recyclables. These costs include the wages of truck drivers, fuel costs, etc. Some of Beaverton’s waste is hauled to nearby landfills, while the majority is transferred to a landfill 150 miles away from the region. The tipping fee at the transfer stations owned by the regional planning agency, Metro, determines most local solid waste disposal rates. Currently, the tipping fee at these two transfer stations is approximately $72 per ton. Rates for single-family and commercial service are available on the City's Web site. Exit EPA Disclaimer

Single-Family Housing Recycling Programs: On March 1, 2006, Beaverton implemented its new single-family recycling program. The city distributed a 60-gallon roll-off cart to each single-family household for collecting the following recyclables:

Glass is collected separately in 14-gallon rectangular bins.

Single-Family Household Solid Waste Collection Options
Roll-Cart Size (gallons) Customer Usage (%) Monthly Collection Rate
20 9 $15.50
32 90 $18.00
60 10 $29.50
90 1 $37.00

Residents collect solid waste in a roll-off bins, ranging in size from 20 to 90 gallons. Customers sign up for their preferred service. Single-family households are visited each week by four trucks to collect yard waste, solid waste, recyclables, and glass. The glass hauler also collects used motor oil contained in 1-gallon milk jugs. Households are encouraged to set out containers only when full. Each household is charged a monthly solid waste disposal fee, as listed in the table above. The pricing structure encourages households to maximize recycling and minimize solid waste. The recommended collection container configuration is displayed below.

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Image of recycling containers placed curbside.

Multi-Family Housing Recycling Program: In 2003, Beaverton launched its “In the Bag!” program to promote recycling in multi-family houses. The City now requires each multi-family housing complex to provide recycling services for its residents. Every multi-family household receives educational materials each year, including an educational booklet describing the recycling program. Each household also receives a red plastic bag for collecting recyclables within the apartment. Residents transport materials collected in the bag to the recycling depot, where they are then sorted into glass and “all other” categories. The bag is convenient for apartments, as it does not occupy a rigid amount of space and can be conveniently hung on a cupboard doorknob or put inside a cabinet. This bag allows multi-family households to recycle the same materials as single-family households.

Image of various recyclable materials.

Commercial Recycling Program: Beaverton sets the rates for commercial solid waste collection as well as single-family and multi-family service. Rates are established for both dumpster containers (1- to 8-cubic-yard containers) and roll-off containers (both open and compactor). Recycling services are included in the rates for solid waste collection, with the exception of roll-off containers. The City aims to provide a container large enough that recycling collection once per week is adequate for the commercial establishments; thus, the recycling container may be larger than the solid waste container. The commercial recycling program includes all the commodities in the single-family program.

The commercial outreach specialist regularly visits commercial establishments to assist with the recycling program. Businesses with manufacturing processes may generate recyclable materials not included in the list of single- or multi-family recycling program commodities. Many of these industrial materials, including scrap metals, photo processing canisters, and other single-source stream materials, can be recycled. In the Beaverton area, these recyclables are delivered to a materials recovery facility, whose operator pays the hauler for the commodities delivered ranging from $33 to $54 (2004 numbers) per ton depending on the type of material.

Lessons Learned: Recycling makes both financial and environmental sense, especially when education and outreach support the program. Including recycling services in the cost of solid waste services provides a powerful incentive to recycle. Collecting a wide variety of materials via a simple collection program also encourages recycling. Beaverton’s unique recycling program provides the same services to single-family households, multi-family households, and commercial establishments. A consistent education outreach program and material sort in the City of Beaverton has been the most notable recipe for the program’s success. Waste is reduced through financial incentives, outreach, and education rather than ordinances and fines.

For more information: More information about Beaverton’s programs can be found at the City of Beaverton Recycling and Garbage Web site Exit EPA Disclaimer.

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