When it comes to the amount of trash produced, Oregon is moving in the wrong direction. A new report Monday from the Department of Environmental Quality shows households are producing more solid waste, but recycling and composting less of it.
Oregonians threw out the weight of 14 Empire State Buildings worth of trash last year. State environmental officials say about 47 percent of those pizza boxes, apple cores and plastic bags never made it to the landfill. Instead, they were diverted to be recycled, composted or burned to make energy. This is often called “recovery” or “diversion.”
While that sounds good on the surface, the current trend is not so rosy. According to the latest report, “Oregon in 2015 has moved in directions opposite from its goals.”
The state aims to reduce overall solid waste and have 52 percent diverted from the landfill by 2020. The recovery rate increases to 25 percent in 2025.
But hitting those goals looks all the more difficult considering Oregonians are producing more trash – it’s up to more than 2500 pounds per person per year.
The overall amount of trash being recovered through recycling, composting and burning is going up as well, but hasn't kept pace with increase in trash. That means the percentage being diverted from the landfill has been declining steadily for the past four years.
Washington’s recycling rates have outpaced Oregon for the past decade. The Washington Department of Ecology says their latest numbers, for 2014, will be released this year.