The 2030 Regional Waste Plan is both a vision for greater Portland’s garbage and recycling system and a blueprint for achieving that vision. This first Regional Waste Plan progress report begins a series of annual progress reports to track performance, mark successes, observe trends and identify areas needing improvement.
The global Covid-19 pandemic, wildfires and dramatic budget reductions significantly impacted implementation of the Regional Waste Plan. Despite the challenges, steady progress was made by Metro, local governments and community partners working together to reduce the environmental and human health impacts of the products we use. Most importantly, we made real and meaningful shifts to a more equitable system that elevates underrepresented voices and empowers marginalized groups and communities of color.
While there’s still a lot of work ahead, much has been accomplished since embarking on this journey to improve the regional garbage and recycling system.
Highlights from the Regional Waste Plan progress report
Metro’s Investment and Innovation grant program fosters economic opportunities and other benefits for communities of color and other marginalized communities. Since 2018, the program has given 41 grants totaling $8.5 million which leveraged an additional $18.2 million in cash and in-kind support.
Fourteen youth have received paid internships at Metro through the Youth Leadership Program that emphasizes opportunities for youth of color and other marginalized communities.
Metro and local governments contributed significant time and effort bringing a much-needed equity focus to Oregon’s Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act. The new act updates Oregon’s laws to create an innovative system that works for everyone.
Partnerships with the North by Northeast Community Health Center, Centro Cultural, and Trash for Peace provided paid training and support for residents to become leaders in waste reduction in underserved communities. The 68 people who became Environmental Promoters helped over 18,000 people learn about waste reduction, hazardous waste disposal and community advocacy skills.
Businesses are doing an excellent job of separating food scraps from their garbage in response to the Business Food Waste Requirement adopted in 2018. This means that less food is going to the landfill and instead is contributing to high-quality compost products used throughout the region and beyond. In addition, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused sudden restaurant closures, local government staff were able to help many businesses quickly move thousands of pounds of food to those in need.
People who live in apartments and condominiums will see long overdue changes to their garbage and recycling services. The first being the relabeling of recycling bins to provide an easy-to-use and consistent recycling system. More improvements such as standardized recycling container colors and more frequent collection will be rolling out over the next five years. The changes are in direct response to the needs and ideas expressed by community members living in multifamily homes – people who have not had a strong voice in the development of waste management policies or programs.
The COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted Metro’s ability to provide needed community cleanup services and resources. Metro Council approved two significant budget expansions totaling $3.5 million to provide the staffing, equipment and other resources needed to return to pre-pandemic service levels while also providing additional resources to address acute impacts from graffiti and litter across the region.