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Environmental Center expands Rethink Waste Community Innovation Fund for waste reduction, recovery projects

Container reuse program at Central Oregon Locavore
The Environmental Center
Container reuse program at Central Oregon Locavore

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Do you have an idea for reducing waste in your neighborhood, workplace, school, your favorite park or restaurant, or other community space, but aren’t sure how to get started? Apply for The Environmental Center’s Rethink Waste Community Innovation Fund.

Since its inception in 2019, the CIF has supported projects led by breweries, restaurants, community organizations, startups, education facilities, and individuals. The 2022 cycle funded reusable dishware kits for events at the Latino Community Association Community Room, the development of a composting system for the Deschutes Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council Skills Lab at the Juvenile Detention Facility, and a brewery waste collection and composting program at Spider City Brewing and nearby Fields Farm, among others.

Jeremy Fox, farmer At Fields Farm, reported a successful pilot project with Spider City Brewing that recovered and diverted over 900 gallons of brewing waste (trube) from the waste stream as a result of the CIF.

“In collaboration with the head brewer at Spider City Brewing, I would collect -- usually on a weekly basis -- anywhere from 30 to 100 gallons of trube,” said Jeremy. “The collected trube, using the tubs and buckets from the Innovation Fund ... was taken to Fields Farm and added to the compost pile.  The accomplishment follows the old saying: One person's trash is another person's treasure.”

The most notable “upgrades” to the CIF in the 2023 funding cycle include a shift to a rolling application process (reviewed quarterly) and expansion of the funds available for project awards (nearly four times that of previous cycles).

The Environmental Center’s Rethink Waste Project will provide a total of $40,000 awards to individuals, businesses, or community organizations to implement waste reduction or recovery projects throughout Deschutes County.

They said $15,000 of the $40,000 total projects budget will be awarded to projects that take place at or largely impact visitor destinations, such as a visitor lodging property, restaurant/eatery, park/trail/nature area, outfitter/activity company, museum/gallery, or entertainment venue. Depending on project budget requirements, 8 to 12 projects will be funded this year.

“The Community Innovation Fund is all about supporting community-driven work and cultivating a culture of rethinking waste at multiple scales,“ explains Udara Abeysekera Bickett, Program Manager for the Rethink Waste Project. “It’s pretty amazing to see individuals, community organizations, and local businesses so enthusiastic about addressing our waste problem and making a real difference.”

To learn more about the CIF and access application guidelines and materials, visit https://envirocenter.org/programs/rethink-waste-project/community-innovation-fund/. All materials are also available in Spanish. Rethink Waste will be hosting information sessions to answer questions prior to each quarter’s application deadline on Feb. 7th, May 9th, and Aug. 8th, from 1-2pm; see website for details on info sessions.

CIF is a program of The Environmental Center’s Rethink Waste Project, in partnership with Deschutes County Solid Waste and Visit Central Oregon.

Article Topic Follows: Environment

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