Let’s dive into addressing the reasons why we don’t recycle:
1. “I don’t know what I can recycle.”
2. “I don’t know where to recycle.”
The first place to look would be on the top of your curbside recycling bin. There is typically a list or picture of what you can recycle curbside. Here is a list for reference (compiled from Metro Recycling):
Don’t fret when you see the “un-recycleable” list! In the Recycling 201 coming next week, I will tell you how some of these items can escape the landfill!
- Newspaper with inserts
- Phone books
- Paper bags – yes, with handles too (if they are plastic handles, rip them off)
- Scrap paper, junk mail – including post-it notes; envelopes (yes, with windows); stationary, file folders…etc.
- Wrapping paper and cards – without glitter, foil, tape, or plastic coating.
- Cereal, cracker, and cardboard boxes – including cardboard egg cartons
- Shredded paper – please place this in a paper bag when recycling
- Aseptic containers – Milk cartons and any cartons that have that plastic spout – ex: juice boxes, soy milk, chicken broth, etc.
Paper that can’t be recycled at curbside:
- Any food contaminated boxes – pizza boxes. Even if you clean them, they are still contaminated.
- Freezer boxes – Ice cream, butter boxes, frozen meal boxes. Wax coating is a no go. However, Amy’s brand uses boxes that are made without wax, so these CAN be recycled!
- Paper bags lined with plastic – coffee bags, litter bags, and pet food bags
- Tissue – yuck…contaminated!
- Wax paper
- Bubble lined or wax covered mailers
- Hard back books
- PAPER CUPS – yes my friends, this is my favorite SURPRISE – your Starbucks cup…wax coated…NOT RECYCLABLE. Think about that!
Plastic — Always rinse your plastics!
- Plastic bottles and milk jugs that have a smaller neck than base – shampoo bottles, water bottles, and soaps
- Plastic tubs that are more than 6 ounces with a wider rim than base – salsa, yogurt, cottage cheese, and hummus
- Planting pots that are larger than four inches in diameter. Rigid only, NOT crinkly/flexible.
- Buckets, five gallons or smaller with or without handles
Plastic that can’t be recycled at curbside:
- Bottles that have petroleum products in them. Motor oil bottles, pesticides, and herbicides.
- Plastic packaging
- Lids and straws
- Plastic bags. These, my frugal shoppers, go right back to the store!
Metal — Always rinse your food contaminated products.
- Aluminum cans, food trays, and foil. Lids should be put in the can and crimped shut. Do not flatten cans (even soda pop cans!).
- Aerosol cans
- Scrap metal no more than 30 lbs or 30 inches
- Bottle caps, nails, other scraps. Put in aluminum can and crimp shut.
Glass (Requires separate container for curbside) — Always rinse your food contaminated products.
- Jars and Bottles – frugal readers keep these anyway, right?
Glass that can’t be recycled at curbside:
- Flower vases
- Window glass
- Cookware and drinking glasses
- Broken glass
Motor Oil can go curbside if poured into a clear plastic container (you can reuse your milk jug or pop bottle) with a lid. The container must not be larger than one gallon. This container should be put next to your recycling bin.
Now you know what you can put out to your curb. Keep in mind, these parameters are for the Portland Metro area. If you live outside of this area, you can call your local sanitation/recycling service or ask for help from Metro (503-234-3000). They are very friendly! I talk to them about once a week to ask questions!
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