Yes, We Can! Master Recycler Program in Oregon

Awesome Environmental Solution Where
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Positive thinking is living in the solution, not the problem. When faced with environmental damage, let’s use the real, tangible, already available solutions to turn negative into positive.

There is a place in Oregon this fall to learn actions that can sustain our planet—aka the 3 R’s:  Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This virtual 10-week class examines landfill science, composting, electronic and hazardous waste disposal, and costs and benefits of recycling.

RECYCLE — Recycling and using this cardboard means that a tree or two doesn’t need to be cut down. The trees we saved use their photosynthesis to use up the extra CO2 emissions in the air. Oh, and we also saved the costs to cut down the trees and manufacture new cardboard. Photo by Jon Moore, Unsplash.

The Master Recyclers Program (MRP) explores how wise materials management can decrease the amount of stuff we use, and then waste, to begin with.

Voila! The need, and costs, to recycle are decreased at the beginning of the consumption cycle.

REUSE — When we reuse materials in our life, that saves purchasing multiple items that would go to the landfill. This means less money spent on recycling.
Photo by Wynand Van Poortvliet, Unsplash.

Oregon State University and Republic Services facilitators are guiding this annual 10-week program.  Tino Barreras is Republic’s Education and Outreach facilitator for Linn and Benton counties. Andrea Norris brings her expertise as Marketing and Development Coordinator for OSU’s Campus Recycling.

Please note:  This fall’s Linn/Benton program is currently full.  In Oregon, however, Master Recycler Programs are held statewide; please check the Resources section at the end of this article for other MRP opportunities.

Highlighting Diversity Expands Outreach

The current Master Recyclers program welcomes diverse participants to learn how recycling aids sustainability. 

This online class is free to Linn and Benton County residents who commit to share their learning with 30 hours of volunteer outreach, within a year of course completion.

“It’s exciting that the online class will extend the reach of who can participate,” said Republic’s Barreras.  “It’s a diverse group, who will work in small groups and get to know each other.”

Volunteer activities can include: staffing an information table at a local market or event, leading a workshop, talking to neighbors and local groups, or pitching in at a recycle or re-use organization.

It’s a diverse group, who will work in small groups and get to know each other. Each participant will take their knowledge into their wider community. It’s an ever-expanding network.”  

Tino Barreras, Republic Services

The trained volunteers will be able to present pathways of change so people of all ages know that individual efforts—like what to recycle, what not to recycle—have a tangible effect on climate health. 

Originally an in-person class in previous years, this MRP class meets on Zoom: Mondays, 6-8pm, Sept 28 to Dec 7 (no class Nov. 23).   Discussion and question sessions will be held on two Thursdays, Oct 22 and Nov 19, 6-7pm.


Individual efforts—like what to recycle, what not to recycle—have a tangible effect on climate health.


Subject Matter Experts Bring Experience, Enthusiasm

The course structure uses an overview of recycle processes that most of us are familiar with, but are not sure exactly how much they make a difference.  So many questions:

  • What happens to those recycles I put in my bin? 
  • When waste goes to the landfill, how long is it expected to stay there? 
  • Does composting make a difference?

The professionals will share solutions they see on the horizon, but will also encourage participants to share solution ideas from their perspectives.

Waste Professionals Seek Community Ideas

“Each participant will take their knowledge into their wider community.  It’s an ever-expanding network,” Barreras said.

From campus-wide to community-wide, sustainability is honed by understanding and connection among people. The Master Recycler Program’s new online format will also support breaking into small groups to get to know people and learn about ideas and challenges of others.  Joining with other will widen the circle of influence of positive environmental change.

Materials Management and Waste Prevention

The lifecycle of waste, from extraction or growth to end of life, is the big picture of this class. Remember the 3 R’s to a sustainable planet—Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.  Recycling processes are only part, albeit a critical part, of the bigger material management picture. Re-use means using a material or a product again for another purpose or even for the same purpose.  Reduce means to re-use or to avoid purchasing; this leads to no waste—i.e., zero waste.

Zero waste–that is, no waste to start with—is the ultimate recycle strategy. Reducing our purchases eliminates money needed to (1) extract resource, transport; (2) manufacture, transport; (3) sell, transport; (4) trash, transport; (5) bury or burn. Carbon emissions decrease.

A Master Recycler learns the first step to recycling is to ask:
“Do I really need to buy this?”

Buying and trading will always be a way of interchange and economy vitality. However, both businesses and buyers will want to consider carefully what products they want to support in our local and global marketplace.

REDUCE — If we consider carefully what items we buy at the beginning of the consumer cycle, then we will lighten the recycling load–and thus the cost–needed at the end of the cycle.
Photo by Pop & Zebra, Upsplash.

Sustainability and MRP Are Statewide

Both individuals and businesses in Oregon have resources and ideas to both build our economy, and protect the environment as we move forward.

Here in Oregon, a viable, active program of education, participation, and outreach is embodied in the Master Recycler Programs. The MRP classes and resources can be found throughout the state of Oregon, by searching on your web browser.  The classes are sponsored by a diverse combination of private and public organizations, depending on the region.

Feel free to use the following resources to learn how waste recycling and management supports our economy and environment at the same time.

Oregon Business and Science Joint Environmental Resources

Linn & Benton Master Recyclers’ Program:

  • Andrea Norris, 541-737-5398
    Marketing & Development Coordinator, Oregon State University Campus Recycling
  • Tino Barreras, 541-286-3331
    Municipal Administrator/Education & Outreach, Republic Services

Republic and OSU Sustainability Links

Master Recycler Program– Inspire Neighbors and Coworkers Into Action

Upcoming:  Yes You Can! Fishing Regulations Reveal Global Buy-In by Oregon

  • Fishing collaboration with other states, countries—lead to sustainability
  • Oregon Initiatives and Resources

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