Volunteers ‘rescue’ a ton of plastics from landfill fate

Why would volunteers work all day – in the rain – helping East Portlanders recycle their discarded plastic items? Read all about it right here!

Mary Leverette, one of the volunteer coordinators for the SE Portland Plastics Round-up, helps East Portlanders put discarded plastic in its place – a recycling center instead of the landfill.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Last month, volunteers were standing in the morning drizzle overseeing plastic recycling barrels in the parking lot of Floyd Light Middle School on SE 106th Avenue.

It isn’t glamorous, but volunteer Portland Master Recyclers say their regular “Plastics Round-up” events are important.

“Many plastics never break down in a landfill,” explains Master Recycler Mary Leverette. “And ‘never’ is a very long time. But, thanks to growing markets for recycled plastics, we can keep them out of the landfills, reduce the volume, and do a good thing for the community.”

At these scheduled events, Leverette tells us, neighbors are encouraged to bring plastic nursery pots, bags and film, kitty litter containers, and all types of hard-to recycle plastic.

Rachael Berkeley and Zora, here doing their part to help by recycling their plastic goods. “The best way to help our kids become more aware of environmental issues,” Rachael says, “is to demonstrate our beliefs by putting them into action.”

Where the used plastic goes
We learned from Leverette that an Oregon company, Agri-plas, specializes in recycling plastics used at farms, greenhouses, and plant nurseries. The company has developed ways to reuse hard-to-recycle plastics.

“Agri-plas makes chips or pellets out of the materials, and then sells them to other manufacturers who make a multitude of items. Plastic Pots are mostly made back into plastic pots. Plastic bags mostly become plastic lumber. Agri-plas is known for their exceptionally well-sorted and contaminant-free plastic, making it easier for manufacturers to use.”

Next Round-up is May 19
According to what we learned, the Portland Master Recycling program’s mission is “Bridging the gap between awareness and action, by motivating people to reduce waste in their home and workplaces.”

“It’s that simple,” Leverette says. “We volunteer because we’re passionate about taking action to help our environment.”

Check our May Community Calendar for the announcement of their next event.

Or, mark down Saturday, May 19 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. – and take your clean, recyclable plastics to at Floyd Light Middle School 10800 SE Washington St.

For more information, see their web site at www.masterrecycler.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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