Ridwell helps Portland Metro residents divert hard-to-recycle waste


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Tue, 11/02/2021 - 5:30pm to 5:45pm
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Membership service connects consumer items to local businesses and non-profits for reuse


Throwing things out can be really guilt inducing. Especially when you think the item could have another use, but your local trash and recycling program won’t take it.

One local business is tackling that feeling with a membership service that helps divert those things from the waste stream and back into reuse. It’s called Ridwell and it services the greater Portland Metro area, picking up unwanted items every two weeks and doing the work of figuring out where they can be reused and recycled.

Taylor Loewen is the General Manager at the Portland headquarters of Ridwell, where she recently gave a tour to Oregon Statehouse Representatives Janeen Sollman from District 30 in Hillsboro and Tawna Sanchez from District 43 in North Portland.  KBOO's Althea Billings reports. 

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Ridwell itself is nestled in a business park out by the airport, and while it certainly isn’t the largest warehouse on the bloc, they do a lot with the space they have. Stepping past the break room, the warehouse is around the size of a high school gymnasium, divided in two. It’s orderly and pretty quiet, until they turn on the bailers.

Trucks pull in to the back with the canvas bags gathered from members in the Portland Metro area. Every two weeks, they pick up 5 main categories of items and one special rotating category. Each time, they unload each category in its own bag. Batteries and bulbs in one, plastic film, Styrofoam, threads (think clothing) and plastic clamshells, like what you might buy berries or salad greens in at the grocery store. They also have a rotating category of more specialized items.

On our visit, the team had been collecting crayons. Boxes upon boxes were filled with crayons in various stages of use. Workers in the warehouse sift through the bags, making sure that everything in there is categorized right. Once they’re finished, the crayons will be sent to a non-profit in California to get reused. 

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