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NEWS UPDATE: City enacts rules about recycling from Dumpsters

Action: Gresham city councilors on Tuesday, Dec. 19, unanimously enacted new rules that prevent people from crawling into Dumpsters to remove recyclables or compact garbage. The vote came after four meetings in which the issue was discussed and allows a Eugene-based recycling company to continue operating in Gresham. But under the new rules, the company can only recycle what it pulls out of Dumpsters using long-handled mechanical grabbers.

Why it matters to you: In theory, it's a trade off between potential legal payouts (resulting in higher garbage rates) and potentially higher recycling rates. Gresham city councilors worried about liability issues stemming from a for-hire-recycling company - Reynolds Maintenance Co. - rooting around in hauler-owned garbage containers.

Haulers complained that Reynolds Maintenance undermined Gresham's franchise-garbage hauling system. Plus, when Reynolds Maintenance compacts trash after sorting out recyclables, more trash fits into the containers, meaning more garbage for the hauler to haul. This in effect shifts higher disposal costs due to heavier-than-the-norm, compacted containers to all customers.

Meanwhile, apartment complex owners and managers praised Reynolds Maintenance for increasing recycling in multifamily dwellings and keeping Dumpster areas clean.

Next steps: Jim Hoover, owner of Reynolds Maintenance Co., vows to keep working for the 12 Gresham apartment complexes that hire him to fish out recyclables and keep the trash area clean. If he finds a car battery or tires, he'll just call the trash company to get permission to recover the items. Hoover said he could take the matter to court, but he doesn't plan to.

The City Council also requested an interim collection rate be created for containers that have been manually compacted. A permanent rate will be included in the annual rate review in June.

In addition, the rules require owners of multi-family complexes to provide tenants a chance to recycle the same materials collected from residential curbside programs.

Haulers are required to provide adequate receptacles for collecting recycled materials.

For more information: Log on to www.wasterecoverysystems.net or call Matt Korot, Gresham's recycling and solid waste program manager, at 503-618-2624.