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.
How do I recycle books and manuals?

A. Books and manuals can go in your mixed recycling, but they may require a little preparation beforehand. It is not necessary to remove hardback covers. However the covers and bindings are often made with non-paper materials such as fabric and clay which can be problematic. If you can rip them off, this is helpful. It is OK to include softback books, cover and all. Manuals with plastic or wire spiral bindings are also OK in the mixed recycling carts even with the spiral bindings. However if you can easily pull the bindings off, please do. If the books are potentially usable, consider donating books to a charitable organization or your local library.

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.