Key to transforming the Pacific Northwest’s waste and recycling system is the adoption of four clean material ‘diamond solutions’.  






We're already seeing success, led by dozens of innovative businesses, nonprofits and government initiatives, showing what the Clean Materials future can look like. We offer a real world clean materials across the Pacific Northwest, focused on the four solution categories. Many of these stories highlight how a clean materials system approach can be instrumental to creating and attracting new regional jobs and new industries, helping to strengthen existing industries while offering drastic improvement for the health and well-being of the people and planet.   


This happens by incentivizing redesign of products and supply chains to shrink carbon footprints, eliminate toxic materials, waste less food, and conserve resources.


  • Companies like Williams-Sonoma, Office Max and Norm Thompson Outfitters worked with Oregon’s DEQ to embrace package redesign, greatly reducing waste.  

  • Buildings and infrastructure are among society’s greatest materials demands; in fact, buildings alone represent 11% of global CO2 emissions. Across the Northwest successful building waste prevention ideas are emerging; Portland is choosing deconstruction (instead of demolition) they’re also embracing ADUs, significantly reducing waste generation; new ideas including pre-fab apartment development are being embraced in the Northwest and a new ‘embodied carbon and construction calculator, developed in partnership between the University of Washington-based Carbon Leadership Forum and 30 building industry leaders, is helping industry understand how to reduce waste.  

Photo courtesy of the Oregon Food Bank


Through through tool libraries, sharing services like car-share, re-use, and repair.  Getting longer life and greater use from products delivers more value from products that we buy so that we need to buy less of them – which both saves money and prevents wastes.   


  • The Oregon-based Renewal Workshop, has been wildly successful; this Oregon-based company offers renewal and resale services for apparel and textile brands to give another life to merchandise that would otherwise be landfilled.    

  • Across the Northwest, tool libraries provide a range of loaned products; Hillsboro offers 265 items in bakeware, toys, musical instruments, party goods and a host of other categories, as well as more than 350 board games.  

  • Portland’s Food Trucks now offer a ‘Go Box’, a reusable plastic container, to reduce disposable food packaging, while other innovators are introducing reusable beer bottles and Zero-waste stores.  

  •  Repair cafes, where people bring reparable items to events and are assisted by skilled volunteers has taken root in the Northwest; King County Solid Waste Division has organized over 60 community repair events since 2016.  

Photo Courtesy of King County: An event organized by King County Solid Waste Division teaches
residents how to repair appliances and electronics.


This happens by cleaning up recycled material streams, ensuring ease-of-recycling in product design decisions, redesigning collection and processing of recyclables, and measuring success based on actual recycling. 


  • St. Vincent de Paul, of Lane County, Oregon is a successful and entrepreneurially minded nonprofit that earns about 60% of its revenue through waste diversion and materials management. They’ve been nationally recognized for their mattress recycling facilities that collectively process about 45,000 discarded mattresses a month; Mattresses are tough for landfill operators, making up 1% of the waste stream.  

  • Merlin Plastics, Western Canada’s leading processor and marketer of industrial plastics scrap,  have developed and refined their infrastructure to be capable of re-processing the ever-growing varieties of household and industrial plastics, like PE, PP, PET, and HDPE, and are currently accepting material from Recycle BC, Washington, and Oregon.  

Courtesy of St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, Inc.


This is where used products and materials find new life through reuse, repair and recycling enterprises; co-located industries connect so one’s ‘waste’ becomes another’s resource, saving materials, energy and water; and wastewater treatment plants grow into value-generating ‘biorefineries’

  • Kalundborg, Denmark pioneered an idea called “industrial symbiosis.” Put simply, it connects co-located industries so that one’s “waste” becomes another’s resource. The result: big material-energy-water savings for industry, coupled with important environmental benefits. The Kalundborg Symbiosis is generating $28 million a year in economic value, in a city of just 17,000 people, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 600,000 tons/year. 


  • We’re seeing interest and momentum across the PNW; a newly updated, McKinley Paper  plant in Port Angeles will manufacture containerboard from 100 percent recycled cardboard, powered by biomass energy cogeneration. 

  • Spokane’s  is exploring a clean manufacturing innovation park; and Seattle’s Fremont Brewing and others are tapping into biomass and bioenergy. 

Industrial Symbiosis, image courtesy Kalundborg, Denmark.

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