A History of Second Chances

Since its incorporation in 1955, St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County (SVdP) has been dedicated to diverting material from the waste stream and turning it into a sustainable revenue stream to support the neediest in our community. From our first humble Salvage Bureau located in the heart of Eugene to 14 retail-thrift stores spread across the Willamette Valley and beyond, we’ve built an enterprise of service from the hidden value of discarded material.

SVdP Salvage Bureau

SVdP Salvage Bureau

St. Vincent de Paul’s new Executive Director, Bethany Cartledge, says giving second chances for people and materials has always been a part of St. Vincent de Paul’s wider goals.

“We have long been in the business of reclamation, giving people, materials, and buildings a second chance and new life,” Cartledge explains.


2023 Recycling at a Glance

Through 70 years of service in our community, we’ve grown our recycling efforts far beyond the thrift-store model of reselling donated items. What happens with the materials we can’t resell, like nonrepairable appliances, Styrofoam, mattresses, candle wax, and broken furniture? These items still have value and are sorted for their most valuable components. By working to divert as much of that valuable material out of the landfills as possible, SVdP has expanded its operations to become one of the single largest recycling organizations in Lane County while simultaneously pioneering industries like mattress recycling.

“If we were to lay out the mattresses we recycled last month alone in a straight line, you’d have 210,00 linear feet of mattresses,” says SVdP Emeritus Director Terry McDonald when discussing our mattress recycling efforts.”

SVdP Mattress Recycling

SVdP Mattress Recycling

In 2023, SVdP’s recycling operations across California and Oregon diverted more than 22 million pounds of materials from the landfill. This total includes scrap metal, wood, Styrofoam, plastic, textiles and more. Our ability to find new life for these materials by breaking them down and reselling them to manufacturers provides SVdP a sustainable revenue stream to help fund our social-service programs in Lane County, but it also helps reduce the environmental impact of our largely single-use society.

Our ability to find value in what others consider waste spreads across dozens of materials. Here is a by-the-numbers look at what we were able to accomplish last year:


By the Numbers

2023 Oregon and California Recycling Weights
Material CA Weights OR Weights Total All Locations
Scrap Metal 7,088,969  3,403,886  10,492,855
Polyurethane Products 4,792,918  232,480  5,025,398
Books and Magazines  2,393,910  2,393,910
Textiles and Fibers 110,331  2,067,311  2,177,642
Wood 1,426,403  186,000  1,612,403
Cardboard 48,960  241,180  290,140
Styrofoam/Plastic 28,520  104,323  132,843
Electronics  659,636  659,636
Total 13,496,101  9,288,726 22,784,827


We will continue to serve as a model for sustainable enterprises and human services in our community and nationwide, just as we develop creative solutions to the problems posed in a single-use world where so much goes to waste.