This spring, Oregon’s only glass recycling plant dodged a crushing blow when Portland city officials scrapped two proposed fees on carbon emissions that would have raised the plant’s annual tax bill by $1 million (”Glass Houses,” WW, Jan. 27, 2021).
But now the Owens-Brockway plant faces a new problem: a $1 million fine from the state for breaking air pollution laws.
The Department of Environmental Quality levied the fine last week. A DEQ spokesperson alleges that Owens-Brockway was spewing too much soot: “The lion’s share of the penalty, $745,854, is for the economic benefit the company gained by not installing pollution control equipment.”
Every glass bottle recycled by Oregon’s Bottle Bill goes through Owens-Brockway. Environmental advocates say a crackdown on Owens-Brockway, which sits on 78 acres in the Cully neighborhood of Northeast Portland, is long overdue.
“This disregard is a clear issue of environmental racism, given the proximity of the plant to Cully, one of Oregon’s most diverse neighborhoods,” wrote Neighbors for Clean Air.
A spokesperson for the plant’s owner, Ohio-based Owens-Illinois, says: “O-I is aware of the announcement and is currently reviewing the scope but cannot provide comment on pending regulatory or legal matters.”