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Most City offices closed Wednesday, June 19, to observe Juneteenth

The City of Portland recognizes Juneteenth as a formal day of remembrance to honor Black American history and the end of slavery in the United States. Learn about Juneteenth.

A Brief History of Inequity in Portland’s Waste Collection System

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Portland’s waste collection system has a complex history. This timeline shows how the system was formed, how it evolved throughout the years and why applying a racial equity lens is important moving forward.

Inequitable Beginnings  

  • Early 1900s: Local industry begins to take shape through informal scavenger routes; small (predominantly white) family owned businesses formed and established routes and other standards.  

  • 1920: Local 220 union formed, brought more organization, certainty and stability to the industry. Did not function as a traditional union, instead was used to protect the interests of family owned businesses who did not want competition.  

  • 1930s/Great Depression: Union continues to formalize and protect the industry with the help of the City.  

  • 1955City Club report released; had several different aims, including investigating a claim that the union had engaged in racial discrimination against Black haulers and exploring the role of the union in maintaining the status quo in Portland’s waste collection industry.   

Industry Consolidation, Franchise System Emerges  

  • 1970s-1980s: By the late 80s, the industry dropped from about 250 haulers in the 50s to around 100. 

  • 1983: Opportunity to Recycle Act required collectors to invest in more trucks to collect the additional material streams.   

  • 1992: Portland adopted a franchise system as a means to carry out the changes for the residential sector. (The franchise system was proposed for the commercial sector as well, but the business community expressed a strong desire to retain a free market system and not all commercial haulers supported franchising this sector.) 

Climate Impacts Considered 

  • 2005-2006: Portland Composts! and Portland Recycles! programs launch, increasing access and requirements citywide to expand services for composting and recycling.  

  • 2009: City Council adopted the Climate Action Plan which put forth goals including reducing total solid waste generated by 25 percent, recovering 90 percent of all waste generated and reducing the greenhouse gas impacts of the waste collection system by 40 percent.

New Equity Goals Shape System

  • Today/Future: BPS continues to prioritize equity in the waste collection sector through the development and execution of the Waste Equity Workplan.