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Oregon Bottle Bill pioneer Don Waggoner dies at 81

As a husband, businessman, volunteer and activist, Don Waggoner was renowned for his broad range of work — from pioneering the nation’s first “bottle bill” to saving a community center in Northeast Portland. But his friends, colleagues and loved ones say that his generosity and modesty will be remembered above all else.

Waggoner died at home Sunday, June 19, with his wife by his side. He was 81.

Waggoner graduated from Stanford University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering, and later earned an MBA from the Oregon Executive MBA Program.

In the 1970s, Waggoner was an environmental activist with the Oregon Environmental Council, and was one of the people who spearheaded the Oregon Bottle Bill, a law passed in 1971 and amended in 2007 that requires deposits to be paid on beverages in recyclable bottles, cans and other containers. The state’s bottle bill was the first in the United States; now ten states have similar laws.

Before the bill, these bottles and containers made up about 40 percent of roadside litter, according to the council. Today they make up 6 percent.

The council’s executive director Andrea Durbin said Thursday that Waggoner was “tireless” in his efforts to pass the bill.

“He was really one of the key leaders and organizers,” she said, recalling Waggoner as giving and passionate about his community.

In the 1970s and 1980s, he was a board member and eventually president of the Oregon Environmental Council. In 2015, Waggoner wrote an op-ed in The Oregonian/OregonLive, disputing the editorial board’s claim that the bill might have outgrown its usefulness.

In 2005, the renamed Northeast Community Center, an independent nonprofit, was formed, with a large portion of the funding coming from the Waggoners. Waggoner was also heavily involved in the development of the Portland Memory Garden, designed by his wife for those living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Read the rest of the article: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2016/07/post_556.html

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