David McMahon

Streaming Media

Publication Date


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57 minutes


Recycling centers, Recycling Industry -- United States, Sustainability


Interview of David McMahan by Allison Dowd at Portland State University on November 19th, 2009.

The interview index is available for download.


David and Michela McMahon started Cloudburst Recycling in 1974. David McMahon was a part of the Portland Recycling Team, which in 1974 started its own recycling service, the Sunflower Recycling Collective. David worked with Sunflower Recycling before starting Cloudburst Recycling, which focused its efforts on curbside collection.


David McMahon, President and General Manager of Cloudburst, the Metro Paint Program in Portland Oregon, interviewed by Alison Dowd on November 19 2009. His knowledge on the recycling industry in Portland spans to when only paper could be recycled. Then plastic bottles and the bottle bill happened, and an Oregon recycling law took effect in 1984-85 for cities larger than 5000 people to facilitate recycling services. At this point Oregon was cutting edge in recycling. Cloudburst is a disposal/recycling center that boast a 6/10th of a percentage point of contamination, while the state average is 4.5%, while other programs in other states like California have much higher rates of contamination, or have none at all. Metro was the first to offer recycling with garbage, and he ascertained the issues associated with conflicts between raising rates to consumers, and having to implement recycling as mandatory for companies who would pick up at the curbside. The comingling of garbage and recycling processed together creates contamination, thus rendering the material non-recyclable. David has also helped lobby for the franchising of recycling in the Portland area in the past so that recycling would assuredly be done. Portland’s recycling collection is a non-regulatory system, and Metro’s job is to serve the public instead of involving city regulators, who lacked proper decision making in the past.

This interview is part of “The Sustainability History Project: Documenting Sustainable Development and Practice in the Pacific Northwest” at Portland State University.


This digital access copy is made available as streaming media for personal, educational, and non-commercial use within the parameters of “fair use” as defined under U.S. Copyright law. It cannot be reproduced, distributed, or broadcasted for commercial purposes. For more information, please contact Special Collections at Portland State University Library at: or (503) 725-9883.

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