Oregon begins major plastics recycling study

Oregon begins major plastics study

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Oregon is in the early stages of conducting a major study on plastics recycling to assess how the state can boost recovery rates while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy use.

While Oregon's PET beverage container recycling rate is currently 54 percent, Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) believes a wide range of plastics can be tapped to further the state's recycling and environmental initiatives. As a result, the DEQ has teamed up with the Metro regional government, which helps administer projects in the Portland metro area and has provided $70,000 in funding for the project.

Industry stakeholders will also have a role in developing the comprehensive study set to be published in May or June of next year.

Working alongside a contractor, the group will review and analyze the most recent data available on plastics recycling in Oregon to identify where the sector may be able to improve. In addition to an extensive analysis of the data, a list of recommendations and emerging technologies will be presented at the conclusion of the study. DEQ's recycling specialist, Peter Spendelow, believes the study will help the state understand not only where but how it can bolster recovery rates.

Spendelow told Plastics Recycling Update that the new study, which builds on data from a background paper published by the DEQ in May, will go into greater depth and "cover a wide range of topics not currently included in the background paper."

While it remains to be seen what plastics will be highlighted in the report, Spendelow said that polypropylene "might be one resin to consider targeting for future recovery." Polypropylene accounted for 39 percent of all non-bottle rigid plastics recycling in the U.S. during 2011, according to a recent study by Moore Recycling Associates. That figure is anticipated to grow over the next decade as curbside programs across the U.S. continue to accept more non-bottle plastics.

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