Oregon DEQ Drafts Contingency Plan for Surplus Recyclables

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is developing a directive for responding to requests to temporarily allow source separated recyclable materials to be used for purposes other than recycling in extraordinary circumstances. Oregon law requires that source separated materials collected or received for recycling be reused or recycled.

“DEQ recognizes that in rare circumstances, strict enforcement of these recycling requirements may not be possible or reasonable or would not accomplish the objectives of the law,” the draft of the directive reads, in part. “For example, recycling markets may not exist or may become prohibitively costly during a severe, prolonged economic downturn, or extreme weather may ruin materials collected for recycling. In such circumstances, requiring materials to be recycled may harm the recycling infrastructure (e.g., requiring long-term storage until markets return or forcing the marketing of flood-ruined materials may further depress markets or quality).”

Potential alternatives, according to the directive, include composting, energy recovery, other beneficial uses, or disposal.

The draft, titled “Alternatives for Recycled Materials Internal Management Directive” has not been finalized and DEQ is seeking comment from local governments, recycling collectors and processors, and other interested groups. Visit the DEQ Solid Waste Forum for more information. A PDF of the current draft can be found here.