In 1953, Tillamook County bought the current site of CARTM to use as a public dump. The county operated the site as an open burning dump until 1981, when open dumping was discontinued in favor of closed containers to be transferred to the regional dump near Corvallis – hence, the ‘transfer station’.
In 1990, a group of local volunteer community activists interested in creative ways for a small rural community to manage its waste locally began operating a small recycling station in a parking lot near the Manzanita fire station. They called themselves the Community Action Recycling Team of Manzanita (Cart’m). Eventually, Cart’m Recycling formalized its status as a non-profit organization and in 1997 received the franchise from Tillamook County to operate the Manzanita Transfer Station. In 2010, after 16 years of misplaced apostrophes, the name was changed to simply ‘CARTM’ (pronounced CART-um).
During the winter of 1998-99 CARTM constructed its first building to house the Re-Use Store and reusable materials processing, financed by Tillamook County and by grants from Meyer Memorial Trust. Additional facilities and machinery were added by various grants and donations. In 2005 the CARTM board of directors initiated an ambitious planning process, beginning with a community meeting. Throughout the year many committees and a lead consultant worked together to produce a revised strategic plan adopted by the board in early 2006 and a master site plan approved by the City of Manzanita in 2007. CARTM began to professionalize —adopting best business practices, creating organizational systems and efficiencies, developing and enforcing safety policies and upgrading the flow of materials and traffic patterns. Once again with support from Tillamook County, Oregon DEQ and Spirit Mountain Community Fund, operations improved with the addition of canopied trash sheds, trailer loading docks, a waste oil space heater, paving and a second building (moved from the local high school and reconstructed on-site) in which to process new donations to the Re-Use Store. All of these upgrades were designed to make CARTM safe and efficient, and to increase recycling and re-use capacity as the population of North Tillamook County continues to grow.
The small recycling outfit is now a well-managed business providing good jobs in addition to services to our community.
Not quite content with its mission “to operate a safe and convenient recycling/reuse and transfer station promoting sustainable living and artistic expression through creative reuse of materials,” the board of directors simplified — and complicated — CARTM’s mission to “Leading our community to zero waste.” In 2010, the board once again began planning for the future in order to implement the new mission. A new strategic plan was formulated to carry the CARTM community another five years into the future. Again, with assistance from key community members CARTM undertook the development of a new logo and educational materials, and placed new emphasis on building a fund development program to grow CARTM’s operations into the future.
CARTM makes it easy to recycle over 40 items at no charge to the public — more than any other recycling facility in the country that we can find! New systems have increased efficiency and effectiveness. We have built in more capacity for future needs. So far, CARTM has processed as many as 15,000 bottles and cans in one day! [Download our 2011 Annual Report]
However, recycling costs money. Expenses include shipping and fuel surcharges from our rural location, employee time to sort, monitor and process materials, wear and tear on equipment, and supplies. CARTM does not receive any of our funding from county or city government. It is a self-supporting private non-profit organization, with a staff of 7 FTE, that relies on volunteers and donations to sustain its operations. True, we receive income from some recycling, but we also take many items such as bottle glass and thin film plastic that cost more to process than we receive in income, because that is our mission. By helping the community to reuse and recycle more and throw away less CARTM’s board of directors is continually looking for new ways to raise money to offset loss of trash revenue.
We rely on a cadre of over 30 regular volunteers who do a variety of tasks: working in The Refindery resale store, receiving and sorting donations of reusable goods, testing appliances, clerical tasks, gardening, errands; and over 100 special event volunteers plan and run fundraising events. Every year CARTM must raise (75%) of its budget through donations of recyclable materials, reusable items to sell in The Refindery, individual donations and fundraising events. In 2011, approximately 33% of CARTM’s budget relied on donations of reusable items; 33% from donated recyclable materials; 5% from cash donations and 5% from events, with the remainder from fees, grants and contracts.
CARTM’s facility is well-signed to make the recycling experience as easy as possible. In addition, CARTM has free brochures and information sheets that can be studied at home in preparation for a recycling trip to CARTM.
CARTM inspires creative re-use of materials. Because of CARTM’s emphasis on inspiring creative re-use and creativity in all of the services it provides, CARTM is honored to be a registered partner with the Oregon Cultural Trust. The means that all donations to CARTM can be matched 1:1 with donations to the Oregon Cultural Trust for an Oregon tax credit. CARTM is proud to be part of this national model for cultural funding.
Creative fundraisers are one of the ways the board keeps the dynamic spirit and message of CARTM’s work sparking in the community while the work goes on at the main facility. For 13 years CARTM held one major event a year at its facility. The “Trash Bash” was a multi-faceted, much beloved community event which impacted the operations of CARTM for months in the planning and weeks in the production. In early 2012, CARTM’s board decided that, in lieu of holding a Trash Bash onsite, it would spin Trash Bash-esque events off site and into the community while modeling zero waste practices as part of each endeavor.
The three events in 2012 were a Trash Art Show, produced in partnership with Hoffman Center in Manzanita, the CARTM Treasures Live Auction at the North Coast Recreation District facility in Nehalem, and the Trashion Fashion Runway Show and Upcycle Party at NCRD, where guests have an opportunity to mingle with the models, enjoy tasty foods and beverages, music and, as typical with all CARTM creative events, be treated to some surprises.