August 15, 2004 | General


BioCycle August 2004, Vol. 45, No. 8, p. 34
Oregon center creates a materials acceptance program at the transfer station, then sells many items to green builders and other buyers.
Laura Swanson

ON the North Oregon Coast, in the shadow of Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain associated with 18th century buried treasure – and just a short distance from the town of Manzanita, Oregon, many people are discovering useful “gems” at a place once known as “The Dump.” This recycling center and resale store – now called CART’M (Community Action Resource Team — Manzanita) – provides the area with unique, valuable “waste management services.”
CART’M is an innovative recycling/reuse center run by a nonprofit community organization that also operates the Manzanita Transfer Station (“the dump”), where it is located. CART’M has a free recycling drop-off/donation center and a resale store specializing in used building materials. It sells paint, windows, doors, dimensional lumber, painted and treated wood, plywood, molding, cabinets, plumbing fixtures, stove pipe, water pipe, shingles, tools, hardware, and wood scrap for firewood and kindling. The store also sells everything from books and toys to household items and furniture. Most of these items were rescued from dump loads or were brought to the center and donated by community members.
“A trip to CART’M is a fun, family event,” comment many regulars. “It’s a gathering place. You never know what you’ll find or who you might see when you go to CART’M.” This is one of the places that’s a “must see” for guests of local residents.
Requests from contractors were one of the inspirations for the creation of the CART’M recycling center. Local “green builders” were frustrated at the usable materials they saw being wasted, especially when old buildings were torn down to make room for new beach houses. In 1996, construction wastes comprised almost 15 percent of Tillamook County’s total waste. This number was higher in the north end of the county (the Manzanita area), where the building rate is three times higher than the rest of the county. In addition, some construction and demolition wastes were being burned, both legally and illegally.
Before CART’M opened, the nearest recycling opportunities were 25 miles away, north to Seaside or south to Tillamook. To help address this problem, several builders volunteered to serve on a task force to design the building materials reuse project. A $30,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) provided start-up and first-year operating funds for collecting and reselling building materials. Other funding came from Tillamook County, state lottery economic development funds, and private foundations.
The CART’M recycling center opened in December 1998 after raising $350,000 for construction, equipment, and first year operating costs from local government and community contributions, as well as state and private grants. In 1996, the DEQ Solid Waste Program awarded the City of Manzanita two grants to plan for expansion of the CART’M recycling depot ($7,000) and to conduct an education and promotion campaign ($4,000) about the expanded program. A DEQ solid waste grant in 1997 to Tillamook County provided $50,000 for purchase of a baler and recycling bins. In 1998, another DEQ solid waste grant to Tillamook County provided $30,000 for staff, equipment, supplies, and educational workshop costs for the building materials reuse program.
CART’M continues to expand, just recently completing a 24 by 24 enclosed warehouse addition with a 28 by 24 carport area to increase storage space for bales of recycled materials to be kept until they are transported to a recycle facility. The construction was funded through a $16,000 grant from the Tillamook County Solid Waste Advisory Committee, and the building constructed was a recycled pole barn. A Reznor Model RA 350 furnace is installed at CART’M to use the waste oil collected at the transfer station to heat the enclosed building.
CART’M is presently supported by transfer station revenues, sale of recyclable materials, continuing local contributions, and the booming resale store. Besides providing a vital reuse component to the operation, the store is making it possible for the center to survive financially. About $33,000 worth of materials were sold out of the store in the first year of operation; $100,000 in the first two years, with exponential growth each year. The facility’s recycling center has the most extensive materials acceptance program available in the county. While there is no “curbside” pick up service in this rural county of 24,000 people, CART’M received over 265 tons of paper products (newspapers, magazines, cardboard, scrap and office papers), nearly 13 tons of plastic bottles, 63 tons of glass, 18 tons of tin and aluminum cans, 132 tons of scrap metal, and 810 gallons of used motor oil in 2003. CART’M recently added thin film plastics, such as grocery bags and similar plastics that are free of food residue. “We are developing a short video hopefully to be used on the local access cable TV channel to help inspire and educate people about recycling,” says Richard Felley, CART’M director.
In addition to finding homes for building materials and other resale items, CART’M has also become known for its trash art shows and workshops. At the first show in May 1999, 50 artists of all ages submitted 80 pieces, and more than 300 people attended (population of Manzanita is 500; the surrounding towns and area about 1,500 total.) Last year over 1,000 people attended the event and over 100 art pieces were submitted for the exhibition. “Several of our founding board members were artists who realized that a good way to teach about reuse of materials is through art,” says Belinda Spegel, CART’M staff member and trash artist. “Along with drawing attention to the recycling center, local trash art pieces inspire people to see new possibilities for what is normally deemed ‘waste’.” Several grants from the Oregon Arts Commission (Arts Build Community Program) have supported this program. This year CART’M will host its 6th Annual Trash Art Bash this month. Workshops are held in April, prior to the event that provide creative instruction in metals and mosaics. In June, the Association of Oregon Recyclers (AOR) annual convention will be in Seaside, Oregon (25 miles north of the facility) and CART’M will offer minitrash art workshops and tours to attendees of the conference. In 2001, CART’M was recognized as the AOR “Recycler of the Year.”
CART’M works with contractors, both individually and in annual workshops, to sort and bring usable building materials as well as traditional recyclables to the resale store. Building departments for the cities of Manzanita, Nehalem, and Wheeler and Tillamook County include CART’M fliers with building permits, and fliers are also available at the two local building supply stores. Some contractors come from other coastal communities, and an increasing number come to CART’M first for used or specialized items, often at the request of an environmentally concerned client.
CART’M has a staff of seven and uses volunteers extensively. Richard Felley, former Director of the Tillamook County Soil & Water Conservation District, and the Tilla-mook Bay National Estuary Project, is CART’M’s new director. The organization thrives in part because of the large number of volunteers, over 75 individuals, from teens to retirees. Most volunteers do a two-to-four hour shift once a month; some work more often, some come in only for special projects, like the new building addition. For more information, visit or e-mail at

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