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On Thursday, February 28, the Metro Council will consider adoption of the proposed 2030 Regional Waste Plan. The plan is the blueprint for how Metro, local governments and others involved in managing greater Portland’s garbage and recycling system will focus efforts and resources in the coming 12 years.
At the meeting, Council will listen to public testimony on the final draft plan in preparation for a scheduled vote on March 7.
The draft plan was developed over the last two years through an organized effort that involved gathering community input, technical expertise and the counsel of an equity work group. A resulting draft of the plan was released for public comment in November.
Read the plan. Share your testimony Thursday.
Metro Council will hear comments from the public on the draft 2030 Regional Waste Plan.
2:15 p.m. Feb. 28
Metro Regional Center, council chamber
600 NE Grand Ave., Portland
How to give testimony
In the 31-day comment period that followed, Metro received more than 90 comments on the draft plan over the phone, by mail or online. Metro staff revised the plan in response to some comments. In other instances, the voiced concerns already were addressed in the plan.
The plan is divided into five work areas, with 19 goals and 108 actions that collectively aim to improve the garbage and recycling system – including who benefits economically from the system – and reducing the impacts of products and packaging on both people’s health and the environment.
If adopted, the 2030 Regional Waste Plan will be implemented in partnership with city and county governments and in collaboration with garbage and recycling businesses, local nonprofits and community-based organizations.
Plan developed with input from governments, industry and community
Metro has been listening to stakeholders and learning from the community since spring 2017 when it began to develop the plan. Metro hosted a total of 41 community conversations designed to bring more diverse perspectives into the Regional Waste Plan.
Many of the plan’s goals and actions came directly from people most affected by inequities in the existing garbage and recycling system, including people of color, immigrants and refugees, people with low incomes, people who live in apartment buildings, and English-language learners who often have less access to services, and in some cases live near facilities that impact their neighborhoods.
Technical work groups, made up of representatives from community organizations, local governments, haulers, and waste and recycling facilities also played a crucial role in shaping the draft plan. These groups came together a total of 24 times to review and refine the plan’s goals as well as the strategies to meet them.
“There’s no waste transfer site in Washington County and there’s no place to take hazardous waste,” said Theresa Koppang, technical work group member and Washington County solid waste manager. “And, so that came out loud and clear. What I think this plan will yield is a more accurate and informed set of services in the future.”
An equity work group participated in both the community engagement activities and technical work groups to help ensure that the plan considers the needs of everyone, regardless of where they live.
“The shared prosperity section as a whole stands out to me – trying to find gaps in the system affecting underserved and minority communities.” said Andre Bealer, equity work group member and program coordinator for National Association of Minority Contractors.
Plan meant to be a living, collaborative document
Some actions in the 2030 Regional Waste Plan are connected to state requirements, such as goals for waste reduction. The ways in which individual local governments reduce waste and meet other actions in the plan may look different.
Comments help shape the plan
During the public comment period last fall, Metro staff read nearly 100 comments from partnering agencies, government staff and community members — like Wayne Brooks.
He shared 18 specific suggestions.
“I have taken time to read the plan and have some comments that I think might improve or at least add to the plan,” he wrote adding that he was proud to be offering his two cents.
Comment: Bus stops should be required to have garbage collection that is kept clean and serviceable.
Result: The plan will be revised to provide direction to evaluate public collection containers to address litter and dumping under action 11.7.
Once a plan is adopted, Metro and local governments will develop three-year work plans that develop timelines, identify resources and prioritize actions. Some actions may be new. Others include efforts already in progress around the region, like improving recycling services for people living in apartments and exploring the creation of a transfer station for people living on the west side.
During the comment period, representatives from local governments expressed support for much of the plan. They also voiced a desire to know more about costs.
“Many of the goals and actions provide a clear framework for moving ahead,” wrote Joe Zehnder on behalf of the Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. “However there are some actions that are less clear, could potentially be costly to implement and may bring unintended consequences to residents and businesses. We believe that, together, we can meet the intent of the actions.”
Metro staff responded in its public comments report by explaining that Metro, cities and counties will develop cost estimates together when they identify approaches for each action. Metro anticipates that there are multiple paths to implementing every action – with different costs, consequences and benefits associated with each.
Metro staff working on the 2030 Regional Waste Plan say the garbage and recycling system proposed in the plan is designed to be dynamic. In recent years, we’ve seen new types of packaging become a part of everyday life – think online shopping. And over time, innovations may offer new options for how we produce the stuff we buy and how we manage what we throw away.
The final opportunity for the public to provide testimony on the plan is Thursday, Feb. 28. The Metro Council meeting starts at 2 p.m.