Metro tests new approach to fight illegal dumping
Bright orange tags that declare "This item has been illegally dumped," are appearing on discarded sofas, mattresses and other bulky items left on street corners as part of a new effort to stop illegal dumping, clean up neighborhoods and reduce costs to Metro’s solid waste rate payers.
Metro’s Regional Illegal Dumping Patrol launched the six-month pilot program last week and will tag dumped items, much like abandoned vehicles are tagged by police agencies, rather than immediately picking them up.
The tags are intended to raise awareness, warn dumpers and engage the community in reporting illegal dumping.
"We’re seeing increasing amounts of bulky waste, such as sofas, furniture, mattresses, electronics and large appliances, abandoned on street corners and alleys in city neighborhoods – mostly in Portland," said Steve Kraten, principal solid waste planner for the patrol. "People may put these items on street corners with the hope that they will be collected and reused. While this may work in some cases, many times the items are unusable when placed on the curb or will become unusable as soon as it rains."
Abandoned bulky items will be tagged by Metro work crews with a bright, visible, weather-proof tag. Metro will return about a week later to determine whether the item was removed, moved or ignored. If the item has not been removed, Metro crews will collect the item and manage it properly. Metro work crews will continue to collect and clean up any bulky waste items that are dumped within a location that may harm the environment or compromise public safety.
Metro will test the approach as part of a six-month pilot project to better understand factors that contribute to bulky waste dumping and to assure the waste is managed in the most cost-effective and responsible way, rather than by Metro work crews repeatedly cleaning up illegally dumped items in the same neighborhoods. Ultimately, Metro wants to reduce its role as a collector of bulky waste in the region.
Metro will look at how bulky waste collection service is currently provided throughout the region, identify neighborhoods that are particularly hard-hit by this problem and key factors that play a role in bulky waste dumping and consider whether a different regional service standard or strategy could help alleviate or address bulky waste more effectively.
The nature of illegal dumping in the Metro region is changing. During the mid-1990s, most of the region’s dump sites consisted of household garbage, remodeling, construction, demolition, and roofing debris dumped in out-of-the-way places like parks, schools, waterways, vacant lots and other publicly accessible areas. In the past year, more than half of the dumps cleaned up in Portland consisted of or included bulky waste. The number of bulky waste cleanups has averaged nearly 2,500 in the last two years, a doubling of bulky waste cleanups since 2007.
Metro, the regional government, crosses city limits and county lines to build a resilient economy, keep nature close by and respond to a changing climate. Representing a diverse population of 1.5 million people in 25 cities and three counties, Metro's directly elected council gives voters a voice in decisions about how the region grows and communities prosper.