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The Environmental Center awards five C.O. businesses $40,000 in Community Innovation Fund grants

Program promotes efforts to reduce waste from business practices

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) - The Environmental Center recently awarded a total of $40,000 in grants through its Community Innovation Fund. The recipients will use the grant to focus on reducing waste and participating in recovery projects in its business model.

Individuals, businesses or community organizations can apply for and receive up to $5,000 in funding from The Environmental Center for projects focused in Deschutes County. The non-profit partnered with Deschutes County Solid Waste and Visit Central Oregon.

The Community Innovation Fund (CIF) is a funding program that provides support to help successfully plan, implement, and evaluate projects. The Rethink Waste Project strives to help the community understand the impacts of using earth's resources, and makes grant recipients more responsible in their consumption and disposal of materials.

The Environmental Center started the annual grant program in 2019 with one application cycle and has since expanded it in 2023 to include three application cycles a year.

Climate Solutions Program Director Lindsey Hardy said, "We know that as The Environmental Center, we don't have all the answers. We've tried a lot of things in the community, and now we just want to hear what the community thinks and knows what's best for their organization or businesses" and "to really try to rethink how they're using materials."

Talking about what the different types of projects CIF funds, she said, "It can be completely new ideas or ideas that you are looking to expand or grow at your organization. And it’s really an opportunity to dig into reduce, repair, reuse composting. You can get really creative in looking at how we divert materials from the landfill here in Deschutes county."

There were five total recipients this year, ranging in project types:

Tetherow Resort: Blue Bins for Blue Bags at Tetherow will install 8 more recycling bins across the property to recycle redeemable bottles and cans as part of Oregon Bottle Drop's Give program using Blue Bags. The Blue Bags program then donates proceeds to local nonprofit organizations, so it’s an extra win for the community!

SCP Redmond Hotel: Improved Recycling and Composting Practices at SCP will increase recycling and composting rates at SCP Hotel in Redmond by adding recycling bins on the 2nd & 3rd floors in guest room lobby areas to divert approximately 80 pounds of commingled recyclables and OR CRV products from the landfill to recycling and donation. They will also add an additional (3rd) composter to divert a total of 400 pounds of compost from the landfill to their composting system. SCP Redmond will construct the corrals, make signage, and install everything onsite.

Central Oregon Community College: Green Hygiene at COCC will provide students at COCC with zero waste laundry detergent, toothpaste and menstruation product options to reduce waste. Products will be distributed through “Green Hygiene'' events, in bathrooms in the most used buildings, through the ASCOCC Community Cabinet Food Pantry, The Clothing Connection, and an Annual Earth Day Fashion Show.

Central Oregon Locavore: Agricultural Packaging Repurposing Program will set up an outdoor storage shed to decrease the number of waxed produce boxes that are going to the landfill, while simultaneously saving local farmers and ranchers significant expenses.This project will allow Locavore to 1. Store more packaging that will meet the demands of the farmers/vendors; 2. Keep the packaging clean and dry, increasing the number of boxes that can be re-used and are not ruined by the elements; and 3. Allow 24hr access to the packaging by all farmers, ranchers, and vendors to better fit their schedules and increase participation in the repurposing program.

The founder and executive director of Central Oregon Locavore, Nicolle Timm-Branch, shared with KTVZ how important the Community Innovation Fund's grant is to Locavore's goals, saying, "Our mission at Central Oregon Locavore is to support local food and local farmers. And this is just one step forward that we can do even more. This grant and the previous grant have helped us a ton."

Article Topic Follows: Environment

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Matthew Draxton

Matthew Draxton is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Matthew here.


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