The Story of Plastics

Since 1971 when OEC led the charge on the first Bottle Bill in the nation and then enabled curbside recycling with the Opportunity to Recycle Act in 1983, we’ve been invested in reducing waste. Our work continues to focus on how we can reduce the impact of modern society on our environment and our health.

More and more evidence shows the proliferation of microplastics in our environment and bodies, and reporters are pulling back the curtain on how the oil and gas industry used recycling as a strategy to sell more plastic.

Screen Shot: OPB Microplastics in Oregon Rivers?

Watch OPB’s report on microplastics in Oregon rivers

Last summer, OPB environment reporters found microplastics in the pristine upper Rogue River and estimated that more than 57 million microplastic fibers rode the current of the Willamette through downtown Portland on the day they sampled.

Some of our favorite fabrics, whether it’s techy workout gear or your fleece winter pullover, can release upwards of 730,000 synthetic particles per wash.

However, we’re also seeing more and more momentum around plastics policy change globally! Oregon passed one of the most protective, comprehensive statewide plastic bag bans in the country in 2019. Unfortunately, a ban on polystyrene food containers failed in the Oregon Senate in the same year, and a bill to reduce plastic straws passed with an amendment preempting local governments from passing more comprehensive plastics policies.

What can you do about plastic pollution?

For starters, there are many ways you can cut plastic from your life or reduce the flow of those microscopic fibers into your wastewater. Here are a few resources to get you started:

But remember, saying no to straws is not enough. Your voice and actions are critical to making the change you want to see in the world! Get educated and speak out about plastics policy in Oregon and beyond. Start by joining Environment Oregon and Surfrider on World Oceans Day (June 8) for a virtual screening of The Story of Plastic and Q&A panel discussion with the film producer and Oregon advocates.

The Story of Plastic brings into focus an alarming, man-made crisis and the heroes who are working every day to rise up against big plastic. After the film, learn more from our panelists about efforts underway here in Oregon to reduce plastics and ways that you can get involved.


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Let’s talk about microplastics

Your closet and dresser drawers are full of plastic – and not the kind from packaging, straws and shopping bags. Some of our favorite fabrics, whether it’s techy workout gear or your fleece winter pullover, can release upwards of 730,000 synthetic particles
August 2, 2019, 6:56 pm


Stepping Up Efforts to Reduce Plastic Pollution in Oregon

By Belinda McFadgen, OEC Volunteer. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our oceans and rivers and threaten wildlife for centuries.” That’s how our friends at Environment Oregon describe the problem of pollution from straws, bags, take-out containers and other single-use p
February 19, 2019, 2:07 pm


Navigating Our Way Towards A Sustainable Plastics Future

—Belinda McFadgen, for OEC When Victor Vescovo was
June 28, 2019, 6:01 pm


Plastic Un-fantastic

The toxic effects of plastics pollution on human health —Belinda McFadgen, for OEC In early March of 2019, a Cuvier’s beaked
April 10, 2019, 5:26 pm


Bottle Bill

In the 1960s, Salem native Rich Chambers, a timber equipment salesman, felt sickened by trash defacing our scenic landscapes from a “throwaway” society simply. Occupants in vehicles often threw cans and bottles out the window.
March 26, 2018, 10:30 pm


New Change for Oregon’s Bottle Bill

by Kevin Kasowski, Director of Foundations and Corporate Relations Whenever I travel outside of Oregon, I appreciate living here even more. It’s not just the greenery, the c
March 31, 2017, 9:55 pm


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