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History

Cloudburst Recycling was established in early 1975, with the goal of demonstrating the feasibility of home pickup recycling service.  Cloudburst is Oregon’s oldest surviving full service, multi-material, “curbside” collector.

We currently provide residential garbage and recycling services in parts of Irvington, Kerns, Buckman, Laurelhurst, and Sunnyside neighborhoods. We provide garbage and recycling services to business customers citywide, especially Inner Eastside areas, and Northwest Portland. We provide drop box service city wide as well, to homeowners, businesses, and contractors. As always, we emphasize waste prevention and recycling.

Cloudburst has always sought to strike a balance between maximum materials recovery, and practical economic considerations. From the beginning, Cloudburst has collected a wide array of source separated recyclables, working to develop new markets and collection methods. In this role, Cloudburst has often been an innovator in the field, leading both by example, and by political advocacy. In 1976, Cloudburst provided early glass recycling programs for “bottle-bill” beverage distributors. In 1981, Cloudburst designed and built the first specialized multi-material collection truck in Portland. Prior to widespread curbside collection, Cloudburst worked with several non-profits to provide periodic recycling drop-offs. Cloudburst roll-off services have always emphasized alternatives to disposal, and Cloudburst has provided these services for more than a hundred neighborhood cleanups. From 1993 through the present, Cloudburst has provided specialized plastic recycling drop-off programs for Food Front and (until recently) Nature’s (now Wild Oats), and New Seasons Market.

Cloudburst owners, David and Michela McMahon, have served on countless advisory committees for local governments, and non-profit organizations. David served two terms on the board of directors for Association of Oregon Recyclers. He is a founding board member for both Eastside Recycling and Oregon Recycling Systems, seeking to promote recycling, and to strengthen and perserve local solid waste operators. David was actively involved in the long process of establishing a citywide curbside collection program and the franchised garbage collection system Portland now enjoys.

Cloudburst has experimented with organics recovery from the beginning. From 1976 through 1981, Cloudburst operated a fully licensed post-consumer food waste compost facility, composting material collected on its routes. From 1986, Cloudburst offered separate collection routes for residential yard debris. In 1998-99, Cloudburst cooperated with Oregon Soils Corp and Metro to conduct a pre-consumer commercial food waste collection and composting pilot project, and in 2001 we helped conduct a post consumer food waste collection/composting pilot sponsored by the City of Portland. We currently offer Organics Collection for composting of foodwaste from restaurants and groceries.

Since 2005, we have been collecting used fryer oil from restaurants for biodiesel production. We are currently operating most of our trucks on biodiesel.

Where does the name Cloudburst come from?

In 1975, there was no such thing as a multi-material recycling collection program. Environmental activists had established Recycling drop-off centers in some communities. A student group at PSU had established Portland Recycling Team after Earth Day 1970.

David & Michela McMahon recognized the need for a home pickup service to make recycling a convenient part of everyone’s life. We saw this as an impending need.  There was a pent-up desire for many people to change the way we lived to become more environmentally responsible, and begin to reverse the damage our economy  was doing to the natural environment.

The image of an approaching “cloudburst” seemed to represent this desire for imminent change, an unstoppable force, as well as the water cycle itself as an essential part of our living planet.