Here is a brief history of the Master Recycler program (taken from Master Recycler Handbook 2017)
In 1990, Jeanne Roy, Chair of Recycling Advocates, read an article about a Master Recycler in Seattle who held compost parties at her home. Jeanne was captivated by the idea of individuals using their own knowledge of waste reduction practices to influence their peers. She drove to Seattle to visit King County’s Master Recycler program compost demonstration site. She proposed Recycling Advocates develop a program here.
Recycling Advocates agreed and formed a committee. Fortunately, Seattle shared its Manual and curriculum outline for Portland to adapt. OSU Energy Extension Program joined as a partner to help develop and administer the program. When the OSU Extension Service experienced budget cuts in 2003, the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability agreed to administer the program, while Metro, and Clackamas and Washington Counties committed to contribute funding.
The Master Recycler program is an eight-week course designed to educate students about waste prevention (reduce), reuse and recycling. The program is sponsored by Metro, the City of Portland, Clackamas County, Washington County, the Department of Environmental Quality and Recycling Advocates.
After completing the course, the new ‘Master Recyclers’ go out into the community to share their knowledge and skills on how to “reduce, reuse and recycle” with their neighbors, schools and workplaces. After completing 30 hours of this community service, Master Recyclers become certified.
RA Board members often make presentations to Master Recycler classes, serve on the program’s advisory committee, provide volunteer opportunities and mentor Master Recyclers. Many of our board members, donors and volunteers are Master Recyclers.
All Master Recyclers program graduates receive a complimentary one-year membership in Recycling Advocates.