NPR : News

Filed Under:

Dirty Diapers Pile Up In Portland Recycling Bins: 'It's Not Pretty'

Waste and recycling handlers in Portland, Ore., say they're seeing an unfortunate side effect of the city's reduction in garbage pickups: 120 pounds of dirty diapers a day, tucked into recycling bins.

"It started when the city went to every other week garbage pickup," Far West Fibers President Keith Ristau tells Oregon Public Broadcasting's Cassandra Profita. "Prior to that you'd get a dirty diaper maybe once a month. Now we get 60 pounds per shift. It's not pretty."

The imposing poundage is actually a drop from the 90 pounds of dirty diapers that landed at Far West's processing center shortly after Portland decided to encourage its citizens to recycle and compost household waste rather than send it to the landfill.

Other than the diaper issue, the new emphasis on recycling and composting seems to be a success.

"When the city of Portland launched its curbside composting program in October 2011, it simultaneously reduced trash pickups from once a week to once every two weeks. But recycling and compost bins are still emptied weekly," Profita reports. "In the following year, the volume of garbage collected from residential curbsides dropped by 38 percent, but the city also sent reprimanding letters to 3,000 households that were caught putting trash in their recycling bins."

Those households are evidently tempted by a chance to get rid of stinky items more quickly than the two weeks soiled diapers and other material could spend in garbage cans. And a report by Portland's KGW TV last year found that baby diapers are only part of the problem — adult diapers account for about 40 percent of those found in the recycling canisters.

Far West Fibers' Ristau admits that diapers are only a small percentage of the material his company handles — "but it's by far the most disgusting percentage," he tells OPB.

City officials say they're working to solve the problem as people adjust to the new system. They're also offering upgrades to larger trash containers.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'The Innocent Have Nothing To Fear' Echoes Real-Life Republican Race

NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Stuart Stevens, a former strategist for Mitt Romney, whose new novel, The Innocent Have Nothing to Fear, tells the story of a neck-and-neck Republican primary campaign that ends up at a brokered convention.
WAMU 88.5

How History Influences Diets In D.C. And Around The World

Kojo and chef Pati Jinich look at how history -- and famous names like El Chico, Azteca and even Fritos -- shaped modern Mexican-American cooking in the Washington region and beyond.

WAMU 88.5

Implications Of The Supreme Court's Immigration Ruling

Many undocumented immigrants are living in fear after a Supreme Court ruling effectively barred deferred deportation for 4 million people. What the ruling means for families across the country and how immigration policy is playing out in 2016 election politics.

NPR

Virtual Reality Aimed At The Elderly Finds New Fans

Some doctors are finding that virtual travel — to Venice, a Hawaiian beach or Africa — can open new worlds to people confined by low mobility, dementia, or depression.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.