FAQ - SWR

Recycling At Work

Q.
Will my business be required to pay extra for recycling service if I do not already have it?

A. With the exception of businesses located in Forest Grove or businesses that use a drop box or compactor for garbage collection, all businesses in Washington County with dumpster-style or cart-based garbage service are entitled to recycling service at no additional charge. Recycling may even lower your disposal costs. Adding recycling containers offers the possibility of decreasing your garbage service to a smaller container or to a less frequent pickup.

Businesses within Forest Grove and all customers with compactor-only garbage service may be charged a relatively small fee to add recycling pickup to your service. Diverting material to recycling and the resulting decrease in service level can potentially more than offset that extra fee. For example, if you are an average office building, located in Forest Grove, disposing of mostly paper, containers and packaging material, half of your waste may be recyclable.

Garbage-only service: 3-yard garbage container collected weekly= $218/month
Compared to:
Garbage + Recycling service: 1.5-yard garbage container collected weekly ($121/month) + 1.5 yard recycling container collected weekly ($18.10/month) = $139.10/month
Total savings = $78.90/month

That is real savings for recycling! Many businesses have the potential to decrease their waste and thus their costs – contact the Recycle At Work Program for more information about our free technical assistance services at 503-846-8609.

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Q.
How do I recycle items that my hauler does not accept in the “standard mixed recycling”?

A. The materials included in the mixed recycling program regularly picked up by your hauler include: papers, metal cans and rigid plastic bottles, buckets and tubs. To recycle other items such as wood pallets, scrap metal, odd types of plastics, plastic film, 55-gallon barrels, bubble wrap or foam packing, etc., use Metro’s Find a Recycler website to find a recycler near you or contact the Washington County Recycle at Work program.
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Q.
We have recently updated our office equipment and now have several old computer monitors and other electronics equipment. How do we dispose of these responsibly? 

A. Changes in technology may leave businesses with large amounts of obsolete electronic equipment. Fortunately there are several options for reusing and recycling electronic equipment before disposal is necessary. Businesses and other organizations can:
Donate: Schools or nonprofit groups will gladly accept useable equipment. To identify donation sites contact the Recycle at Work program
Resell: Sell equipment to employees, an electronics resale business or post the equipment on-line
Return: Ask if your manufacturer or supplier offers an electronics take-back program
Recycle: Locate nearby recyclers at Metro’s “Find a Recycler” webpage.

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Q.
Do the Business Recycling Requirements still apply to me if I lease my office space from another entity?

A. Yes, your business is still required to meet the recycling requirements. The Business Recycling Requirements also apply to any person or entity that owns, manages or operates premises and provides garbage collection services for business tenants. If your property manager or owner is responsible for the garbage service location and has not yet provided for recycling collection service, contact them directly or contact the Washington County Recycle at Work Program for assistance; (503) 846-8609 or recycle@co.washington.or.us.
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Q.
Why focus on businesses to increase recycling?

A. The business sector generates almost 50 percent of the waste collected in Washington County.  The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) found, in a recent waste composition study, that recyclable papers, cardboard and containers accounted for approximately 25 percent of the garbage collected from businesses in the Metro area. Thus, the primary goal of focusing on recycling at businesses is to recover these recyclable materials and send them to recycling markets to be utilized in manufacturing processes. Considering the recycling opportunities in our region, sending these valuable materials to landfills makes little economic or environmental sense.

Q.
What do businesses need to do comply with the Business Recycling Requirements?

A. According to the adopted Business Recycling Requirements, businesses must:

1. Place recycling receptacles throughout the workplace.
2. Post signs at collection areas that identify materials to be recycled.
3. Recycle all paper, cardboard and metal cans, plastic bottles and tubs, and glass bottles and jars (glass bottles and jars must be collected separately from all other recyclable materials).

Fortunately, the Washington County Recycle at Work Program provides free technical assistance and educational resources to make it easy to meet these requirements.

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Q.
How can the Recycle at Work Program help businesses meet the Business Recycling Requirements?

A. Recycle at Work staff are available to assist your business by providing free internal recycling boxes, posters, labels, and tips to improve your recycling system. Our specialists also help to coordinate external recycling services with your collection service provider. Contact the Washington County Recycle at Work team at (503) 846-8609 or send an e-mail to recycle@co.washington.or.us. If your business is located within the City of Beaverton, please contact the Beaverton Recycle at Work Program at (503) 526-2665 or recyclingmail@ci.beaverton.or.us.

Q.
Which businesses are affected by the Business Recycling Requirements?

A. The recycling requirements apply to all businesses, government agencies, schools, and not–for-profit organizations. The requirements also apply to property managers and/or owners that provide garbage collection services for their business tenants. Residential or home-based businesses are exempt from the Business Recycling Requirements.

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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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.