Plastic debate recycled for 2019


Area groups organize for new year of environmental initiatives

Jan. 9, 2019 — Lane County’s Waste Management Division has announced a second “Plastics Roundup,” for the collection and recycling of certain types of plastic waste from Lane County residents, as a follow-up to a successful countywide collection effort last fall.

On Sunday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Glenwood Transfer Station in Eugene, there will be a free drop off for clean No. 2, 4 and 5 resin types, with early access for neighborhood groups, churches and individuals that sign up as “community collectors.”

Local environmental group Precious Plastics Florence (PPF) will again be coordinating collection efforts in town in the hope of consolidating trips to Eugene.

 Participation in the first “Plastics Round-up” event was strong, with dozens of households bringing plastic waste to the group collection location staffed by PPF, which was then transported to Glenwood.

PPF members have also been meeting to create an action plan to contact and inform the makers, distributors and purchasers of plastic packaging materials. Many consumers are looking to them as a main part of the future solution to the serious problem of plastic waste.

At a meeting at Siuslaw Public Library on Jan. 2, PPF spokesperson Eileen Angilletta reviewed recent activities that the group has participated in, as well as upcoming issues that would allow PPF to communicate more easily both with the public and with the corporations that utilize and sell plastic packaging.

 “If everyone could try to do at least 10 different letters and send them out together, we could be sending out 20 to 40 letters at one time,” Angilletta said to PPF members. “Then, let us know when you have sent letters out to corporations, listing them if possible.”

Her presentation included a sample of a letter created by Nan Harvey, designed to send to CEOs and manufacturers of plastic packaging materials, stating the damages done to the environment by plastic waste.

 Estimates are that 95 percent of all plastic packaging is not recycled, and more than 1 million plastic water bottles are discarded every minute, with no current requirement in place on any governmental level for manufacturers to collect or reuse these materials.

PPF working groups also shared other networking and team building ideas that included developing a closer working relationship with the Siuslaw School District to facilitate the inclusion of students in future PPF activities. There were also suggestions that the upcoming Earth Day be a focal point of work with the school district.

One important step that Angilletta mentioned was PPF’s recent state approval for the formation of a 501(c)(3), so that interested individuals can make tax deductible contributions to the group as a nonprofit.

Another aspect of the continuing community discussion surrounding the plastic issue was the first Environmental Management Advisory Committee (EMAC) meeting of 2019, which was held on Jan. 3 at the Florence Events Center. EMAC is an advisory entity and the group was responsible for the recommendation and subsequent adoption of the ban on Styrofoam take-out containers last year.

This year, the committee is considering the current status of the one-use plastic bag that most shoppers are given when they purchase groceries. The process of transitioning from one use plastic bags to reusable bags, theoretically made of many materials, is one of the most daunting challenges in any implementation plan for a plastic bag ban.

While the state has not yet implemented a ban on single use plastic bags, individual municipalities have done so, including the cities of Portland and Eugene.

EMAC’s later discussions touched on a number of subjects, including the public’s willingness to accept and participate in any change from plastic to reusable bags. This would presuppose the passage of a ban by the city or state in the future, which at this time remains in question.

Providing attainable goals for retailers, without the imposition of unreasonable costs, is one of the concerns EMAC is considering when developing a future action plan for this and other issues, as well as the need to include a strong informational component as an integral part of any change to city regulations.

These could include the creation of a Community Bag Kiosk, where people can donate and pick-up reusable bags, and perhaps the development of a “Design a Community Bag” competition for students and residents.

The committee is also currently in the process of meeting with five new potential committee members, which EMAC hopes to have seated as soon as possible.

For more information on the Lane County Plastics Roundup recycle event, or to sign up as a community collector, see lanecounty.org.

For more information about PPF, find the group on Facebook at Precious Plastics Florence.


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