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Benton County Embarks on Groundbreaking Regional Sustainability Initiative

Working together for a better future, Benton County Talks Trash.

Responding to recommendations from the 2023 Solid Waste Process Workgroup, Benton County is moving forward with its commitment to a collaborative endeavor aimed at revolutionizing sustainable materials management in Western Oregon.

On March 5, the Benton County Commissioners approved recommendations to hire a consultant who will assist a task force to determine a path forward for a Sustainable Materials Management Plan for Western Oregon.

“The proposed regional sustainable materials management plan is a significant departure from traditional solid waste practices toward a comprehensive approach considering the entire lifecycle of materials,” said Benton County’s Community Development Director, Darren Nichols. “By embracing this visionary strategy, we are striving to significantly reduce adverse environmental impacts while maximizing benefits for health, society, and the economy.”

Benton County has commenced efforts to engage a diverse array of stakeholders with the following objectives:

  • Providing Western Oregon, including Benton County, with a practical roadmap to minimize negative impacts and maximize benefits across environmental, health, social, and economic dimensions of material management.
  • Exploring innovative ways to reduce waste throughout material lifecycles, by reducing initial use of non-recyclable materials and creating new processes and markets for high volume elements of our waste stream. addressing both current and future regional needs through collaborative efforts.
  • Focusing regional efforts by providing a forum for cooperation among jurisdictions, communities, and organizations.

The effort will leverage partnerships from neighboring counties, cities, agencies, and organizations across Western Oregon to collectively tackle the complexities of sustainable materials management with the following goals in mind:

  • Assessing existing facilities and emerging opportunities across Western Oregon.
  • Evaluating environmental footprints and exploring alternative practices.
  • Fostering innovation through research, pilot projects, and novel approaches.
  • Incorporating individual county interests within the framework of regional objectives.
  • Accounting for contextual factors such as community values, economic and environmental sustainability.

Recognizing both the magnitude and urgency of the task, Benton County anticipates a 24-36-month timeline for the development of a comprehensive plan, with a launch possible by early April.

“We have a unique opportunity for Western Oregon to unite in purpose and action. Together, we can pave the way toward sustainable materials management that safeguards our environment, enhances economic vitality, and secures the future for generations to come,” said Benton County Board Chair Xan Augerot.

The Sustainable Materials Management Plan task force chair Steve Chase said the journey ahead is Western Oregon’s opportunity to responsibly unify counties, cities, and others relative to the entirety of the integrated waste management system.

“The coordination includes source reduction, growth of recycling and reuse markets, and understanding of research and emerging technologies,” said Chase. “I’m blessed to be a part of this region-wide effort where I can give back to the community in a meaningful way. I encourage others to step up and give their time, experience, and wit to important public policy initiatives like this.”

Community members can sign up to receive updates about the Sustainable Materials Management Plan or contact the Benton County Community Development Department with feedback or questions. 

Benton County is an Equal Opportunity-Affirmative Action employer and does not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission or access to our programs, services, activities, hiring and employment practices. This document is available in alternative formats and languages upon request. Please call Cory Grogan at 541-745-4468 or email

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