First Alternative Co-op Customers Organize, Petition State to Permit Container Reuse Program

For years, First Alternative Co-op customers had the option to return used containers , which the store would then wash for reuse, but state regulators intervened, ordering the program to end.

Now, a group of Co-op customers has submitted a petition to Oregon regulators to reinstate the program, and the state is considering rule changes that would allow stores to receive, wash, and reuse containers statewide.

Talking with the Statesman Journal, Isaak Stapleton, Food Safety Program director for the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), said, “People are looking for ways to reduce the waste stream.”

Changes would likely start at grocery stores, which the ODA licenses and inspects. But, rule changes for restaurants could soon follow according to Dave Martin,  who is the Food borne Illness Prevention Program coordinator at the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).

OHA licenses and inspects restaurants through county health departments.

In January of 2018, China decided to stop taking certain recyclables from the U.S.  Oregonians have put 16,000 tons of otherwise recyclable goods into landfills since then.

By Andy Thompson