Washington County greenlights reduced rate program for garbage and recycling services

At their meeting on June 28, 2022, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners took a significant step forward in improving access to essential garbage and recycling collection services for low-income unincorporated Washington County community members. As part of the annual garbage and recycling collection rate review process, the board approved a reduced rate program for qualifying households – the first of its kind in Oregon.

“Ensuring that essential services provided by the county are accessible to all community members is a top priority for our board,” said Board Chair Kathryn Harrington. “Since this board adopted the county’s first equity resolution in 2020, we have been working to build new systems and remove barriers that have negatively impacted our historically underserved neighbors. This reduced rate program for garbage and recycling services is an exciting step forward.”

Starting January 1, 2023, unincorporated Washington County community members living at or below 185% of the federal poverty level – $49,000 per year for a household of four – who subscribe to garbage and recycling service from one of the county’s nine franchised companies will be eligible for a new reduced rate. Reduced rate program participants will have their garbage and recycling bills cut by 75%, which means the standard 32-gallon per week garbage and recycling service will cost just $7 per month.

“Throughout 2017 and 2018, cities, counties and Metro joined together to develop the 2030 Regional Waste Plan,” said Thomas Egleston, Solid Waste & Recycling manager for Washington County. “As part of the planning process, we asked community members from across the region how the garbage and recycling system could better meet their needs. Improving access and affordability for low-income households was a common theme.”

Between now and January 2023, staff will select a community-based organization to help administer the reduced rate program and work with the county’s franchised garbage and recycling companies to develop an easy application process. The program’s eligibility requirements match those of several other assistance programs for energy and nutritional support, making the screening and eligibility review process simpler.

“If your family already qualifies for nutritional support from WIC or your school’s free and reduced lunch program, then your family will qualify for the garbage and recycling reduced rate program,” said Egleston.

More information about the new reduced rate program and how community members can apply will be announced toward the end of the year.

For more information about garbage and recycling in Washington County, visit www.WashingtonCountyRecycles.com.