PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Recycling company Ridwell filed a lawsuit against Washington County, claiming the county violated Oregon law by barring the company from collecting materials in unincorporated areas of the county.
In the complaint, Ridwell claims they were forced to stop collecting hard-to-recycle materials that Washington County does not accept in their municipal curbside recycling bins.
Ridwell’s complaint claims “Washington County barred Ridwell from operating solely because Ridwell charges a fee for its service and would thus pose a challenge to the Waste Haulers’ perceived economic interests; had Ridwell been performing its services for free, it would still be permitted to operate there.”
The complaint alleges the county is violating Oregon law “which requires that municipal waste management and recycling programs ‘extend the useful life of solid waste disposal sites by encouraging waste prevention and the recycling and reuse of materials…to the maximum extent feasible before disposal.”
Additionally, the complaint says “Oregon statutes authorize cities and counties to displace competition and grant franchise agreements – local monopolies – to waste hauling companies. But the ability to grant such monopolies is limited.”
In a statement, Ridwell spokesperson Caleb Weaver said, in part, “We filed this lawsuit because Washington County, Oregon illegally forced Ridwell to stop service in unincorporated areas of the County and improperly denied Ridwell’s request to be allowed to operate. The County is violating state law by prohibiting residents from paying anyone a fee to pick up recyclable materials that are not included in the curbside recycling service – forcing Washington County households to send thousands of pounds of material that could be reused or recycled to the landfill.”
Weaver added “after working for several months to find a mutually agreeable resolution that would allow residents of unincorporated Washington County to access Ridwell’s service, facing continued threats of fines and the ongoing refusal of County elected officials to even talk to us, our only option was to seek a court order requiring Washington County to follow the law.”
A Washington County spokesperson said the county has a policy against commenting on “legal matters where the County is named or is likely to be named in litigation.”
However, they pointed to a webpage where the county provides updates on recycling in unincorporated parts of the county.