Metro Council adopted the first Regional Solid Waste Management Plan in 1988. Around this time, the Metro-managed St. Johns landfill was closing, and just a few years before, new state policies had set into motion the region's first recycling programs. The plan reflected this changing landscape, addressing the need for new disposal options, as well as the need to provide both information about and infrastructure for recycling.
In 1995 Metro updated the plan. By this time, recycling programs had expanded to serve more people and take more materials. The plan called for more focus on the lowest hanging fruit, such as waste in the business sector. The plan also emphasized programs that handle hazardous waste, and investment in private facilities to handle both recycling and garbage.
In 2008, Metro adopted the current Regional Solid Waste Management Plan. A few years earlier, greater Portland had seen a significant shift in recycling service: Roll carts were introduced, and along with the carts came the practice of "commingling" many materials. In many ways, the 2008 plan followed the course set by the 1995 plan, but it also took initial steps to both reduce the overall generation of waste in greater Portland, the toxicity of that waste, and the impacts of handling and transporting the waste.
Guiding principle: First, reduce
All three plans used the solid waste hierachy, which was adopted as an official state policy in 1983 and continues to guide decisions about the management of garbage and recycling. The hierarchy prioritizes reducing waste and reusing materials first, with disposal as a last resort.