FAQ - Recycle at Home

Recycling at Home

Q.
Apartment recycling: What materials can be recycled at my apartment/multifamily community?

A. Washington County’s recycling program includes the collection of paper, cardboard, metal, rigid plastic tubs, buckets, and bottles. These materials can all be mixed together in the same container.
Glass needs to be placed in a container separate from the other recyclables.
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Q.
Curbside recycling collection at single-family households: What materials are commonly recycled at home at the curb?

A. Newspaper, cardboard, paperboard, shredded paper, metal pieces (less than 30 lbs), aluminum and steel cans, and plastic bottles, buckets and tubs. You can recycle glass bottle and jars by keeping them separate and setting them out in your red bin ON THE SIDE of the mixed recycling cart. Motor oil can also be set ON THE SIDe and needs to be contained in a gallon, see-through, container with a screw-top cap. 

Q.
Electronics: What should I do with my old TV, laptop/desktop computer and monitor when I no longer want them?

A. If your equipment is in working order, consider giving it to a friend or relative, sell it, or donate it to a non-profit. If your equipment is broken, take advantage of DEQ's free Oregon E-Cycles program. DEQ has contracted with local recyclers around the state to accept these materials for safe, responsible disposal at no charge. Find the location closest to you. 
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Q.
Garbage: How much garbage does the average person create daily?

A. In 2010, metropolitan area residents generate 7.14 pounds per capita daily. Much of this material can be recycled.

Q.
Glass: Why can't glass be placed in with the paper, metal and plastic bottles and tubs?

A. When glass breaks, glass shards damage expensive equipment at paper mills and can also pose a danger to employees who hand-sort recyclables. Keep glass separate!

Q.
Is this going to increase my rates?

A. Yes, there is a rate increase associated with the new rural recycling program. The average customer that subscribes to weekly garbage service in a 32 gallon container will see a rate increase of $2.84 per month. The increased rate is necessary to pay for the new roll carts, the extra labor associated with picking up the recycling every-other-week and other associated equipment costs such as new trucks and additional fuel.
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Q.
Paint Cans: Can I recycle empty paint cans in the mixed recycling cart?

A. Residents with collection service may set out metal paint cans with less than 1" of dried paint remaining. The lid must be removed for the hauler to take it. If there is more than 1" of paint remaining, take these cans to Metro's Hazardous Waste facilities for free recycling. Your paint will likely be reformulated to make MetroPaint! Find more details at www.OregonMetro.gov/paint.

Q.
Paint: What should I do with unwanted paint?

A. If you have a quantity of unused paint, instead of throwing it away, consider taking it to a PaintCare collection site. PaintCare collection sites accept new or remaining paint for free to recycle/reuse. www.PaintCare.org

Q.
Plastic Bags: Why can't plastic bags go in the recycling cart?

A. Plastic bags are not collected curbside. Do not use plastic bags to collect materials for your cart, instead use paper bags.

Bags mixed with recyclables tangle in sorting machinery, reducing the likelihood that materials will be sent to the right markets to be recycled. Example: Plastic bottles are inadvertently sent to a paper mills with piles of papers because the sorting machinery was clogged with plastic bags.

Q.
Plastic buckets and nursery pots: Can plastic nursery pots be recycled at the curb?

A. Yes! Any plastic nursery pot that is less than 5 gallons can be collected at the curb providing that it is rinsed clean of debris and is rigid (does not crinkle). Just toss 'em in!

Q.
What if I forget to set my recycling cart out on the day of my collection?

A. Cart contents will be collected on the next regularly scheduled collection day. You can place extra recycling out in a cardboard box or paper bag on your next recycling collection date or take extra recycling to a local recycling center.
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Q.
What is household hazardous waste?

A. Household hazardous waste consists of many toxic chemicals and compounds. Examples of household hazardous waset may include paint and stains, pool and spa chemicals, pesticides and poisons, automotive products (oil, antifreeze), thinners and solvents, household cleaners and disinfectants, batteries, art and hobby chemicals, aerosol spray products, fire extinguishers, propane tanks, mercury thermometers and thermostats, and more! All of these materials can be taken for disposal/recycling to Metro's Hazardous Waste facilities (Oregon City and Portland) who charge a nominal fee for the service.
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Q.
What should I do with recycling, such as cardboard, that won’t fit inside the cart?

A. Attempt to fit all recycling into the cart while keeping it in mind that materials must freely fall out when tipped for collection. If your extra recyclables will not fit into the cart, collect these in a paper bag or cardboard box and set them next to the cart for collection.
Please take large quantities of extra recycling to a recycling depot. Depots also accept many materials that your curbside collection company will not accept
Fold or cut cardboard to fit inside the cart.

Q.
What time does my cart need to be out at the curb?

A. Collection times vary. Recycling cart must be curbside by 6:00 a.m. on your collection day.
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Q.
Who collects my garbage and recyclables?

A. Washington county has thirteen certificated haulers who collect garbage and recycling in the unincorporated areas. All of these haulers are assigned an exclusive area to service as part of their certificate. Don't know who's your hauler? Click on "Collectors" on the left column and select "Service Providers." You can also find out online at Oregon Metro's "Who's My Hauler" webpage (www.OregonMetro.gov/hauler) or call Washington County Solid Waste & Recycling at (503) 846-8609.

Rural Garbage and Recycling Collection

Q.
Garbage Service: Will my garbage service be changing as well?

A. There will be no change to your garbage service. You will continue to receive garbage collection services on a weekly basis and the containers you currently use for garbage collection will not change. If you would like to change your garbage container you may contact your hauler for options.

Q.
Rates: If I don’t recycle and don’t want the roll-cart do I still have to pay more?

A. Recycling and garbage collection are both voluntary activities in Washington County. You are not required to participate in either program. However, if you sign up for garbage service the rate you pay includes recycling collection; you can opt-out of the recycling collection service itself but you will still pay the same rate.

Q.
Red Bins: What do I do with the red bins?

A. You should hold onto your red bins for recycling glass. Glass collection will remain separate from other mixed recycling collection. You can now use the red bins for setting out your glass recycling. When your hauler delivers the new roll carts you will also get a glass recycling sticker that you can put on your red bin to help identify it. The red bins will be picked up on the same day as your new recycling roll cart.
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Q.
What can we put in the recycling roll cart?

A. You can continue to place the same materials in the new recycling roll cart as you placed in the red bins. The Mixed Recycling stream includes papers of all sorts including junk mail, phone books, cardboard, cereal boxes; metal including aluminum and tin cans, empty aerosol cans, and scrap metal lighter than 30 pounds and smaller than 30 inches long; and plastic bottles, buckets and tubs between 6 ounces and 5 gallons in size. Glass will also continue to be collected separately from the other materials; you can now use your red bins to set out glass bottles and jars.
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Q.
What if I don’t want to use the roll cart because it is too big?

A. If after trying out the new roll cart for a while you determine that it is just too big to handle, there are options. Contact your hauler to discuss different options available to you.
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Q.
What is this new rural recycling program?

A. Approximately 6,000 Rural residents in Washington County will soon be receiving a 90 to 95 gallon roll cart for recycling. This roll-cart will replace the existing red bins for the collection of mixed recycling, including paper, metal and plastic bottles and tubs. You will keep your red bins for glass collection. The new program will roll-out between September of 2013 and March of 2014, depending on the hauler that services the resident. For a specific roll-out date residents will need to contact their haulers. In addition to receiving the recycling roll cart, the collection frequency will also be increased to every-other-week instead of once per month.
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Q.
What should I do with things that cannot be recycled in the roll cart?

A. Materials that are not accepted in the roll carts such as plastic clam shells, used clothing, shoes, electronics, and Styrofoam can all be taken to a recycling depot. To find a recycling depot near you visit www.OregonMetro.gov/findarecycler or call the Metro Recycling Information Center at (503) 234-3000.
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Q.
Why is rural recycling changing?

A. Recycling in roll carts is much more efficient, the materials collected are more valuable, recycling rates generally increase with the introduction of roll carts, and many rural residents have requested increased recycling collection. All of these factors were considered prior to the implementation of this new program.
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Q.
Yard Debris: Does this mean that I will now get Yard Debris Collection service too?

A. No. Yard debris collection service is not available to rural residents. Most rural residents do not have a need for yard debris collection as they handle the materials on-site and because of the size of their properties, curbside collection is generally not adequate. If you would like information on Yard Debris drop-off locations or composting at home, that can be provided to you.
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