Master Recyclers bridge the gap between awareness and action by motivating people to reduce waste at home and in the workplace.
What is the Master Recycler Program?
The purpose of the program is to create a volunteer pool of knowledgeable residents who inspire others in their community to reduce waste in the home and work. The first Master Recycler Programs in Oregon were established in the early 1990s. Thirteen counties are currently served by Master Recycler volunteers. Responsibility for maintaining Master Recycler volunteer training programs varies by wasteshed. Typical funders include: cities, counties, waste and recycling haulers, OSU Extension Service, colleges, nonprofits, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Oregon Master Recycler programs freely share texts, speaker bureaus, and other resources in order to help establish programs in new areas both inside and outside the state of Oregon.
What the Program Covers
Class presenters and tour guides are local experts and innovators in solid waste management, waste-based business, waste prevention, recycling, and composting from commercial, nonprofit, and government sectors. Classes are held in the evenings and follow a lecture/Q&A format with some hands-on activities. Homework is assigned. All classes feature Saturday tours of local and regional facilities and businesses. The content of each program varies somewhat by region. See below for a list of subjects covered by various Oregon Master Recycler programs via the course text, handouts, lending library, class sessions, and tours.
- Food Waste
- Collection and Disposal
- Household Hazardous Waste
- Local Hauler Perspective
- Depots & Transfer Stations
- Waste Composition
- Arts Education
- Construction Debris
- Commingle (Single Stream)
- Material Recovery Facilities
- Options for Atypical Items
- Recovery Markets
- ORS 459, 459a
- Oregon DEQ
- Product Stewardship
- The Role of Cities
- Community Outreach
- Effective Presentations
- The Green Triangle
- Zero Waste Events
- Waste Reduction & Waste Prevention
- Lowering Personal Consumption
- Business Resource Conservation
- Green Building
- Green Schools
- Waste-Based Businesses:
- Commercial Compost
- Newsprint Mill
- Recycled Glass Foundry
- Scrap Art Supply and Studio
- Steel Mill
- Used Building Materials
- Used Home Goods
- Waste Based Nonprofits
- Waste-Derived Fuel
These programs are very popular and most fill quickly. It’s never too early to submit application materials in order to be included in the next available session. Preference is given to those 1) who live or work within the wasteshed where the class is offered, 2) are able to attend all classes and tours, and 3) will complete the initial volunteer commitment. A few programs accept out-of-area participants or participants sent by employers, for a fee, if space is available.
What is a Master Recycler?
“Can this be recycled?” This is question most often asked by friends and coworkers who know you have attended this class. Offering friendly recycling help is one tool Master Recyclers use to generate interest and enthusiasm for the other Rs, "reduce" and "reuse!" By sharing personal stories of confusion, frustration, discovery, and triumph, Master Recyclers seek to motivate others to move beyond the bin by considering alternatives to the currently accepted "rate of replacement" for durable goods, to increase awareness about the true cost of convenience and the burden disposable items place on our environment. Some of us want to recycle everything we can, including the smallest plastic bottle caps. After attending the Master Recycler class, we learn that we can have a greater impact by adopting lower consumption lifestyles and encouraging others to take similar steps so that fewer materials enter our lives that cannot be reused or recycled. Finally, Master Recyclers provide accurate recycling information and resources so that all material that can be recycled in our community is done so at the highest rate possible with the least amount of contamination for the best end use.
Master Recyclers in Action!
Master Recyclers provide education and outreach at fairs and festivals, food events, neighborhood collection events, local businesses, schools, and more!
Check out this 30-second blurb about MC Master Recycler class.
Oregon Master Recycler Programs Enrollment and Contact Information
Eight active programs covering 13 counties:
BENTON AND LINN COUNTIES, est. 2008
Contact: Kenny Larson, 541-754-0444 x211
Enrollment: Register through the website
Cost: $0 plus 30 hours of service in Linn and Benton Counties
Location: OSU Campus in Corvallis
Course Details: Offered once per year beginning in January - eight Tuesday class sessions from 6:15pm to 9pm plus two Saturday morning field trips and one optional Friday full day field trip. Participants are considered certified Linn-Benton Master Recyclers once all hours are paid back.
CLACKAMAS, MULTNOMAH, AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES (PORTLAND METRO), est. 1991
Contact: Stacy Ludington, 503-545-8976
Enrollment: Applications are accepted up to 30 days prior to the start of class. Thirty applicants are selected using a weighted lottery. Apply for class through the website.
Cost: $50 plus 30 hours of service in the Metro region. Scholarships are available.
Location: Clackamas County – April/May, Washington County – September/October, Multnomah County – January/February
Course Details: Eight consecutive Wednesday sessions from 6:30pm-9:30pm and two Saturdays from 8am-2pm. Metro is the first program established in Oregon and has trained 1,300+ Master Recyclers.
HOOD RIVER, SHERMAN, AND WASCO COUNTIES, est. 2009
Course Details: currently inactive
JACKSON COUNTY, est. 2008
Contact: Denise Barnes, 541-494-5488
Enrollment: Apply online or print and mail application
Cost: $75, and 30 service hours.
Location: Rogue Disposal & Recycling’s corporate office located at 1 W. Main St., Ste. 401
Course Details: 6 week course in the fall of each year. Class is from 5:30pm-8:00pm and one Saturday field trip
JOSEPHINE COUNTY, est. 2010
Contact: Shea Sigafoos, 541-955-6533
Course Details: currently inactive, contact Shea for more information and updates.
CITY OF KLAMATH FALLS, est. 2007
LANE COUNTY, est. 2000
Contact: Kelly Bell, 541-682-2059
Enrollment: First-come, first-served based on the date applications arrive in the office. Applications are available on the website or by contacting the program office. Some out-of-county applicants are accepted if space is available. Out-of-county applicants pay $50. Wait-listed applicants are carried over to the next available session.
Cost: $0 plus 30 hours of service in Lane County, or $50.
Location: Fall and winter sessions are held at the Glenwood Central Receiving Station, 3100 E 17th Avenue in Eugene. A spring session is held in a different rural town each year.
Course Details: Nine consecutive Tuesday sessions from 6pm-9pm plus two Saturday multi-site field trips and a Saturday compost demo. An optional Thursday afternoon tour is offered. More than 740 folks have completed the classroom training. Master Recyclers report 2000-3000 volunteer hours each year - 25,000 hours since the program began in 2000.
MARION COUNTY, est. 1994
Contact: Dakota Tangredi, 503-566-3191
Enrollment: Sign up on the website to receive information about future classes
Cost: $25 plus 30 hours of volunteer service in Marion County
Location: Marion County Environmental Services, 5155 Silverton Rd NE, Salem
Course Details: Eight consecutive Thursday sessions and three Saturday field trips to area recycling facilities. Classes are held once or twice per year, depending on enrollment. 600+ Marion County Master Recyclers have logged more than 12,500 hours.
TILLAMOOK COUNTY, est. 2014
Contact: Justin Weiss, 503-812-6877
Course Details: The Tillamook County Master Recycler Program's first class graduated in September 2014. Please contact them for more info on future classes.
YAMHILL COUNTY, est. 2009
Don’t have a Master Recycler Program in your area? Check out Recycling 101, modeled after Oregon Master Recycler Programs and developed by waste reduction specialists, program coordinators, and Master Recycler class presenters throughout the state.
Master Recyclers are found in communities throughout the U.S. and Canada, including Burbank, Cincinnati, Dayton, Edmonton, Minneapolis, Olympia, Seattle, St. Paul, Tucson, Tulsa, Valparaiso, and Vancouver.