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Information on Ridwell’s Operations in Unincorporated Washington County

The following message is provided in response to community concerns regarding the operations of Ridwell Inc. in Unincorporated Washington County. The Board of County Commissioners will be reviewing the topic of expanded recycling services at their January 18, 2022, Work Session. You can review the Work Session agenda and watch it live by visiting the County’s iAgenda webpage.

Thank you for your commitment to recycling and reducing waste. We are heartened by the outpouring of support for waste reduction efforts and want to assure you that Washington County shares your goals and passion for protecting our environment. We want to clarify a few things regarding Ridwell’s operations in Washington County:

  • Washington County is the solid waste authority for only the unincorporated areas of the county outside the boundaries of any city. If you live within the limits of a city – you will need to contact that city for information about whether Ridwell is an authorized service provider.
  • Ridwell has been operating its solid waste collection service in unincorporated Washington County without proper approvals or authority for almost a year. Ridwell knowingly expanded its business into unincorporated Washington County in violation of county code and without proper approvals as required of any other solid waste collection business.
  • Throughout the last year the County has been in close communication with Ridwell and allowed Ridwell to continue existing operations only while Ridwell’s request for an exemption from county code requirements was reviewed. While Ridwell pursued an exemption, the County requested it cease expanding its customer base in unincorporated Washington County.
  • The Garbage and Recycling Advisory Committee, comprised of community members and solid waste industry experts, reviewed Ridwell’s exemption request. After holding a public hearing and much discussion, the committee did not support an unregulated solid waste collection company operating in unincorporated Washington County. The advisory committee had questions regarding Ridwell’s approach to where its services were or were not offered, its employment practices, whether potentially hazardous items like compact fluorescent light bulbs and batteries were safely handled, the inability to know where or whether the materials were getting recycled or reused, and whether expanding unregulated solid waste collection services may not align with the 2030 Regional Waste Plan.  After discussion, the Committee voted to reject Ridwell’s exemption request.
  • In accordance with the Washington County Code, the committee’s decision was final and the Board of Commissioners has no role in the exemption request.
  • Following the committee’s action, the County notified Ridwell that the committee did not find that an exemption of any kind was warranted at this time and that it needed to stop its operations in unincorporated Washington County.

We want you to know that the County has heard considerable interest from community members regarding expanded recycling collection services through a variety of channels – including public hearings, community surveys and emails like the ones recently sent in response to Ridwell’s notice to its customers. The County has already begun reviewing a variety of ways to provide an expanded recycling collection service. A service that would be regulated to ensure safety and fairness, incorporates equity considerations, is responsible and transparent in how materials are managed, ensures that recycling markets can accept what is collected, and most importantly, ensures that capturing certain items for recycling benefits our environment.

You can stay up to date with these efforts by subscribing to the “For interest in garbage and recycling regulatory topics or the Garbage and Recycling Advisory Committee (GRAC)” email list at this link. If you want to continue recycling the items Ridwell was collecting they can be dropped off at a variety of locations. To find a location near you visit the What to Recycle and Where? tool on the County’s website or download the Garbage and Recycling Day app on GooglePlay or the AppStore.

Thank you for your support of waste reduction.


Food Waste Prevention Campaign Sm

Save money and make the most of your food

Did you know each household here in Oregon tosses $1,600 worth of food a year on average?

This winter, we're sharing our favorite tips to prevent food waste, save money and unnecessary trips to the grocery store on Facebook and YouTube.

You can also visit our Eat Smart, Waste Less website for guides, downloadable tools and easy, effective ideas, like:

  • Puree and freeze sad spinach in an ice cube tray. Use in stews or smoothies later.
  • Use the bulk section at the store so you can get the exact amount you need and not more.
  • Next time you open the fridge, pull the food that needs to be eaten soon to the front; or put it in an ‘Eat this first’ bin.
  • After you write your grocery list, shop your kitchen first.

From a 2-minute check of your refrigerator’s temperature to learning a few key kitchen skills, each idea that you put into action in your daily life will help save food and save money.

What about businesses? How can I reduce food waste at work?

Although most of the edible food in Washington County's garbage comes from homes, a good portion still comes from the business community. The good news is that each business can have a big impact on food waste by making one or more operational changes.  

  • Check out the videos showcasing successes from local businesses through the Food Waste Stops with Me campaign. There you’ll find tools for tracking food waste, guidance on where to donate and how to compost.
  • Contact us to learn about food donation opportunities.
  • Collect your food scraps for composting – we can help set up your program!

It takes time, energy, valuable natural resources and heart to grow and deliver our food to our tables. We can make sure we don’t lose all that to spoilage and waste.


Holiday items

Holiday recycling guide

Can wrapping paper can go in the recycling bin? What about bows and Styrofoam? Take a look at our Holiday Recycling Guide. We clear up common recycling confusion and share some of our favorite reuse and repair tips to reduce waste this holiday season.


Event resources

Check out our YouTube page for all of our previous Latte & Learn events and other event recordings plus many other videos. If you would like copies of a slide show by our one of our previous presenters, please connect with us!

Green Business Symposium - December 2nd: Food Waste & Climate event resources: