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    236 volunteers, picked up 3,867 pounds of trash in downtown Portland today  

Story by The Oregon Herald Staff
Published on Friday April 30, 2021 - 7:12 AM

PORTLAND, Oregon - This morning 236 volunteers attended the cleanup event and collected 3,867 pounds of litter and debris from city sidewalks, parks, and business fronts. An estimated 1500 needles were also collected. The 236 volunteers, picked up 3,867 pounds of trash. SOLVE partnered with Transition Projects to host a hygiene product donation drive. Collectively, these downtown cleanups have removed nearly 27,000 pounds of trash since they began in September.

It was the organization named SOLVE, along with the Portland Business Alliance, and Portland Lodging Alliance, support from CBRE, Turner Construction Company, NAIOP Oregon, and Aspect on Sixth hosted the eighth Downtown Volunteer Litter Cleanup Day that got things underway to clean up. Since these events began in September, over 2,500 volunteers have removed nearly 27,000 pounds of litter from the downtown Portland corridor.

SOLVE's Downtown Cleanup Days offer Portlanders an opportunity to safely take action to clean up unsightly litter in our city. Each SOLVE volunteer receives important safety information and guidance on what to pick up and what to leave behind, before receiving cleanup supplies and fanning out to clean the nearby area. Some of the safety information provided includes reporting needles to the event leader and not picking them up, leaving a respectful distance between anyone sheltering outside, and to never take anything that could be a personal belonging.

Volunteers met at four project sites, including The Benson, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Providence Park, and Northwest Academy. By hosting multiple locations, SOLVE was able to safely accommodate a higher number of people who wanted to join the event.

SOLVE's Downtown Cleanup Days are about more than just picking up litter. These events demonstrate that Portlanders are resilient and care deeply about the health and cleanliness of their city. Many volunteers not only picked up litter today, but also donated hygiene products to Transition Projects, which partnered with SOLVE for this event to host a donation drive.

Common items found included cigarette butts, disposable masks, and take-out containers. All volunteers were required to wear a mask at all times and maintain social distancing throughout the event.

Each piece of litter collected also removes the chance of it ending up in a nearby waterway, like the Willamette River. The next Downtown Volunteer Litter Cleanup Day will be held on May 19.

About SOLVE SOLVE is a statewide non-profit organization that brings Oregonians together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship. Since 1969, the organization has grown from a small, grassroots group to a national model of volunteer action. Today, SOLVE mobilizes and trains tens of thousands of volunteers of all ages across Oregon to clean and restore our neighborhoods and natural areas, and to build a legacy of stewardship for our state. Visit for more information.

About Portland Business Alliance The Portland Business Alliance is greater Portland's Chamber of Commerce. Our mission is to create opportunity and advance well-being for all who live and work in the greater Portland and SW Washington region. Our vision is a healthy and resilient business ecosystem. Visit for more information.

Litter consists of waste products that have been discarded incorrectly, without consent, at an unsuitable location. Litter can also be used as a verb; to litter means to drop and leave objects, often man-made, such as aluminum cans, paper cups, fast food wrappers, cardboard boxes or plastic bottles on the ground, and leave them there indefinitely or for other people to dispose of as opposed to disposing of them correctly. Large and hazardous items of rubbish such as tires, electrical appliances, electronics, batteries and large industrial containers are sometimes dumped in isolated locations, such as national forests and other public lands.

It is a human impact on the environment and remains a serious environmental problem in many countries. Litter can exist in the environment for long periods of time before decomposition and be transported over large distances into the world's oceans. Litter can affect the quality of life.

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world, with 4.5 trillion discarded each year. Estimates on the required time for cigarette butts to break down vary, ranging from five years to 400 years for complete degradation.

In addition to intentional littering, almost half of litter on U.S. roadways is now accidental or unintentional litter, usually debris that falls off improperly secured trash, recycling collection vehicles and pickup trucks. Population levels, traffic density and proximity to waste disposal sites are factors known to correlate with higher litter rates.

Illegally dumped hazardous waste may be a result of the costs of dropping materials at designated sites: some of these charge a fee for depositing hazardous material. Lack of access to nearby facilities that accept hazardous waste may deter use. Additionally, ignorance of the laws that regulate the proper disposal of hazardous waste may cause improper disposal.

According to a study by the Dutch organization VROM, 80% of people claim that 'everybody leaves a piece of paper, tin or something, on the street behind'. Young people from 12 to 24 years cause more litter than the average person; only 18% of people who regularly cause litter were 50 years of age or older. However, a 2010 survey of littering in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont in the United States, placed litterers aged 55 and over at less than 5%. The same observational study estimated that 78% of litterers are male.

Negligent or lenient law enforcement contributes to littering behavior. Other causes are inconvenience, entitlement and economic conditions. A survey of dumping in Pennsylvania found that the largest number of illegal dumps were in townships without municipal trash hauling. The same report also cites unavailability of curbside trash and recycling service, shortage of enforcement, and habit as possible causes. The presence of litter invites more littering.

Two-stage process model The two-stage process model of littering behavior describes the different ways in which people litter. The model was proposed by Chris Sibley and James Liu and differentiates between two types of littering: active and passive.

The theory has implications for understanding the different types of litter reduction interventions that will most effectively reduce littering in a given environment. The theory states that, all things being equal, passive littering will be more resistant to change because of two psychological processes: 1. diffusion of responsibility that increases as the latency between when an individual places litter in the environment and when they vacate the territory, and 2. forgetting, which is also more likely to occur at longer delays between when an individual places litter in the environment and when they vacate the territory.

Life cycle Litter can remain visible for extended periods of time before it eventually biodegrades, with some items made of condensed glass, styrofoam or plastic possibly remaining in the environment for over a million years.

About 18 percent of litter, usually traveling through stormwater systems, ends up in local streams, rivers, and waterways. Uncollected litter can accrete and flow into streams, local bays and estuaries. Litter in the ocean either washes up on beaches or collects in ocean gyres such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. About 80 percent of marine debris comes from land-based sources.

Some litter that is collected can be recycled, however degraded litter cannot be recycled and eventually degrades to sludge, often toxic. The majority of litter that is collected goes to landfills.

Hazardous materials encapsulated within tires and other items of illegally dumped rubbish can leach into water sources, contaminate the soil and pollute the air.

Tires are the most often dumped hazardous waste. In 2007 the United States generated 262 million scrap tires. Thirty-eight states have laws that ban whole tires being deposited in landfills. Many of these discarded tires end up illegally dumped on public lands. Tires can become a breeding ground for insect vectors which can transmit disease to humans. Mosquitoes, which breed in stagnant water, can transmit West Nile virus and malaria. Rodents nest in accumulated tires and can transmit diseases such as Hantavirus.

When tires are burned, they can smolder for long periods of time, emitting hundreds of chemical compounds that pollute the air causing respiratory illnesses. Additionally the residue left behind can harm the soil and leach into groundwater.

This bolus from a Hawaiian albatross has several ingested flotsam items, including monofilament from fishing nets and a discarded toothbrush. Ingestion of plastic flotsam can be an increasing health risk to albatrosses, Tern Island, French Frigate Shoals. Visual pollution is a major effect of litter.

Open containers such as paper cups, cardboard food packets, plastic drink bottles and aluminum drinks cans get filled up with rainwater, providing breeding locations for mosquitoes. In addition, a spark or a lightning flash can start a fire if it strikes litter such as a paper bag or cardboard box.

Litter can be hazardous to health. Debris falling from vehicles is an increasing cause of automobile accidents. Discarded dangerous goods, chemicals, tires, sharps waste and pathogens resulting from litter can cause accidental harm to humans.

Litter also carries substantial cost to the economy. Cleaning up litter in the US costs hundreds of dollars per ton, about ten times more than the cost of trash disposal, with a cost totaling about $11 billion per year.

Public waste containers or street bins are provided by local authorities to be used as a convenient place for the disposal and collection of litter. Increasingly both general waste and recycling options are provided. Local councils collect the waste and take it for reuse or recycling. However, there are some problems with this approach; if the bins are not emptied regularly, then the bins will overflow and can increase litter indirectly. Some local authorities will only take responsibility for rubbish that is placed in the bins, which means that litter remains a problem. People may blame a lack of well-placed bins for their littering. Hazardous materials may often be incorrectly disposed of in the bins and they can encourage dumpster diving.

Naval Nuclear Power Training Command student volunteers remove and dispose of used tires littering the waterways of Naval Weapons Station Charleston, South Carolina.

Volunteers at completed cleanup on hiking trail Volunteers, sometimes alone or coordinated through organizations, pick up litter and dispose of it. Clean up events may be organized in which participants will sometimes comb an area in a line to ensure that no litter is missed. Organizations may promote litter cleanup events and may also have separate media campaigns to prevent littering.

In North America, Adopt a Highway programs are popular, in which companies and organizations commit to cleaning stretches of road. Keep America Beautiful has held litter cleanups called the Great America Cleanup since 1998 in over 20,000 communities nationwide.

Earth Day cleanups have been held globally since 1970. In 2019, Earth Day Network partnered with Keep America Beautiful and National Cleanup Day for the inaugural nationwide Earth Day CleanUp. Cleanups were held in all 50 States, 5 US Territories, 5,300 sites and had more than 500,000 volunteers.

Commercial properties such as retail, office and industrial have litter picking maintenance programs. This service may be provided by property owners or contracted to various service providers by property management companies acting on owner's behalf. Litter picking is performed on foot using simple hand tools. A worker will walk the sidewalks, parking lot and landscape and sweep up litter material into a litter collection tool. Contents are emptied into a waste bin on job site.

Oregon Bottle Bill

Oregon was the first big organization to require deposits on bottles in an effort to clean up Oregon. The idea soon went accross the US and global, around the world. That's Oregon for you!

The Oregon Bottle Bill is a container-deposit legislation enacted in the U.S. state of Oregon in 1971 that went into effect in October 1972. It was the first such legislation in the United States. It was amended in 2007 and 2011. It requires applicable beverages in applicable sizes in glass, plastic or metal cans or bottles sold in Oregon to be returnable with a minimum refund value. The refund value was initially 5 cents until April 1, 2017, when it increased to 10 cents. The Oregon Legislature has given the Oregon Liquor Control Commission the authority to administer and enforce the Bottle Bill. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the enforcement has been suspended several times and the hours in which retailers must accept containers are modified. Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative , a private cooperative owned by retailers and beverage distributors administers the collection and transportation of returned containers and keeps all the unclaimed deposits. Materials from returned containers are sold by the OBRC and proceeds are handed out to beverage distributors.

When passed in 1971, the bottle bill was viewed primarily as a litter control measure. In 1971, bottles made up about 40% of litter, 10.8% in 1973 and 6% in 1979. Oregon DEQ reports that the reduction is 'as a result of the law' referring to the Bottle Bill. In a 2006 publication it was reported that states without similar bills recycle on average 33% of their containers. A 2016 study by Campbell, Benjamin, et al. found bottle deposit law only had a small impact of about 3% for clear glass and aluminum recycling rate when bottle deposit law coexists with municipal recycling program. In 2015, more than 80% of Oregonians lived where curbside recycling is provided. In the same year, the Oregonian's editorial board posited that the bottle deposit has become more redundant as curbside recycling became more common. State law requires retailers and redemption centers to pay the refund value to consumers presenting containers covered under the bottle bill. Beverage distributors charge the initial deposit on shipments of beverages to retailers, who in turn pass it onto customers, however, charging deposit to consumers is not required by state law. Beverage distributors retain all deposits not reclaimed by consumers. The 2019 statewide redemption rate for containers subject to deposit was 85.8%

Starting in the early 2010s, OLCC approved redemption centers run by distributors; there were 16 of them by April 2017. Several redemption centers have been plagued with issues revolving around transients, crime and drug activities. Community objections to redemption center proposals have revolved around these issues.

Bag drop off redemption In this redemption method, consumers create an account and fill designated bags with empty containers and drop off the filled bags to a participating location. They're collected and taken to a processing center and refund value is credited to the consumer's account after they have been counted. Drop locations are not staffed. After the contents are counted, the spent green bags are sent to a landfill. The redemption operator OBRC is rated 'F' by the Better Business Bureau as of November 2020 for having 64 complaints and 3 unanswered complaints. State audit reported that consumers have complained about accuracy of the counting process, but found the program generally works well. The audit identified an instance where the OBRC incorrectly counted against a usage quota and commented that they were unable to identify where discrepancy came from due to account only shows the current balance without revealing credit for each bag.

Community concerns regarding beverage container redemption centers In order to open a redemption center, it must be approved by OLCC. A site was proposed at southwest 17th Avenue and west Burnside Street in Portland in 2014. OLCC received about 200 comments, most of which were against the center. Stakeholders such as dozens of neighbors and businesses including Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC opposed the establishment of the beverage container redemption center. Many objections related to foresight of vagrants and crime related to transients with shopping carts with scavenged cans flocking to the new redemption center.

Beaverton A redemption center opened up in May, 2017 in Beaverton. KATU's Andrew Reed reports neighbors report BottleDrop brought in people 'who routinely act suspicious and are causing problems' in the neighborhood. A nearby veterinarian interviewed reports BottleDrop 'brought a wave of problems to his propert'y. He reports one of his business' security camera was ripped off and had someone break into his practice' bathroom to use drugs. In addition, he reports shopping carts getting left on his property almost daily as well as finding bottles of urine; offering a list of issues of security, noise, odor, traffic, littering, drug paraphernalia and transients. A resident behind the redemption center reported seeing public urination and became suspicious of people he believes to be acting suspiciously near his home. The dean of students for Jesuit High School commented 'Our school is less safe now' referring to the presence of OBRC's BottleDrop redemption center. Supporters of the center were the Oregon Food Bank which participates in its fundraising program and two science teachers from Meadow Park Middle School, which is approximately four miles from the site.

Bend In September 2017, KTVZ described that businesses near the Bend BottleDrop Center have 'noticed a difference in the neighborhood ever since the Bottle Drop moved in'. The news reporter described businesses have seen transient encampments nearby and felt the BottleDrop attracts transients. In 2017, Bend police responded to 270 calls at the BottleDrop. In four months period leading up to when the story was written on July 16, 2018, two subjects were arrested for offensive littering and 11 were arrested for drug offenses at the BottleDrop property. Bend Police arrested 24 people in 4-months period leading up to July 12, 2018 around the BottleDrop for matters such as drug possession, stealing shopping carts from retailers and offensive littering. In April 2020, Bend Police again identified the area around Bend BottleDrop as a site of ongoing complaints about drug use, theft, littering, abandoned shopping carts and criminal mischief and conducted a focused enforcement operation resulting in several arrests.

Medford In June 2018, Damian Mann of Mail Tribune reports nearby business owners say the OBRC's redemption center has been a ' magnet for methamphetamine 'tweakers' who cash in their bottles and head out to buy drugs and 'unsavory behavior'. These Medford businesses also said they began noticing vagrancy, theft and vandalism ever since BottleDrop redemption center opened. In 2018, the owner of Southern Oregon Crane in Medford testified to the city council 'It's like living right next to a crack house.' in reference to the redemption center. The Medford redemption center opened in November 2014 and it was the 10th one to open in the state.

Portland Delta Park

BottleDrop in Portland On March 27, 2020, Delta Park BottleDrop's landlord TMT Development issued a notice of default citing health and safety concerns. After a long line started to form outside the store, TMT states BottleDrop has not been managing social distancing requirements relating to COVID-19 pandemic. The notice directed them to comply with 6 ft social distancing rule or face eviction. The same weekend, the police were called to the redemption center after a man made death threats. TMT Development's CEO says nearby businesses have complained about BottleDrop's patrons blocking their doors, standing too close together as well as violence, according to The Oregonian. In April, TMT development installed a fence around a grassy property after drug needles were found. TMT has also deployed armed guards to prevent people from queuing up in the parking lot or in front of other businesses. This area has been used by BottleDrop's customers, but it is not part of the formal lease agreement. TMT's president cites they needed to step in to prevent fights and drug dealing. The manager of a sporting goods store interviewed by Willamette Week said he's seen drug deals and fights in front of the OBRC's BottleDrop.