PORTLAND, ORE. - Portland, which boasts one of the highest recycling participation rates in the country, is expected to expand its curbside pickup to include all plastic bottles other than pesticide, herbicide andmotor oil containers. The American Plastics Council has agreed to assist the city in a media campaign to promote the expanded effort, said Mike Lindberg, the city commissioner who oversees the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.
The expanded program, scheduled to begin the first week in July, is expected to double the volume of plastics the city is recycling. The pickup will include all types of plastic bottles with necks, regardless of the material, as long as they were not for hazardous materials.
Also excluded from the pickupare plastic food storage and freezer containers; plastic bags, lids, caps and spray pumps; plant containers; plastic wraps; and yogurt, margarine and cottage cheese tubs.
Some 75 percent of Portland households, according to recent city surveys, participate in the city's recycling programs, Lindberg said. He claimed that is one of the highest rates recorded in the United States. More than 70 percent requested the collection of mixed plastic bottles in the city's last customer survey, he said.
Portland last year recycled 564 pounds per capita of all kinds of throwaways vs. 486 pounds the previous year.
Seventeen recycling collectors now pick up about 40 tons a month of high density polyethylene milk jugs, said Susan Keil, the city's manager of industrial and solid waste. That total, she estimated, will increase to about 80 tons when the expanded collection program is in full swing.
Most of the plastic is expected to be trucked to the new automated plastics sorting facility in Salem, Ore., operated by the Garten Foundation and subsidized by the plastics council.
The group gave the foundation $1 million for the facility, which sorts and bales plastic containers with the help of an automated sorting machine. As of late March the facility was handling about 30,000 pounds of containers a month.
Lindberg is one of five members of the Portland City Council, which still must approve the expanded collection program formally. Approval is expected May 17, as there is no opposition, a Lindberg aide said.
``We'd be surprised if there were opposition to lower rates and new services,'' he said, referring to a plan to lower garbage rates for most residential customers by about 40 cents a month.
``The really amazing thing is that we can add plastic bottles and give most of our customers a rate break at the same time,'' Lindberg said.
Most of the rate decrease is the result of the soaring value of recycled newspapers, said Bruce Walker, who manages the city's curbside recycling program.