How to Recycle at Home

Washington County residents can recycle from home using one of two options:
  • Self-haul materials to a drop-off recycling center

The curbside recycling program accepts specific items on the "YES" list for recycling (see table below). Items on the "NO" list are not accepted in the curbside program and cannot be placed in your home recycling container. Some items on the "NO" list may be recyclable. Check with our What to Recycle and Where tool to see if you can take them to a drop-off recycling center. For more information, email a waste prevention and recycling specialist or call 503-846-3605. 

Preparing materials for collection

Materials accepted for recycling are similar, regardless if you live in a single-family or multifamily residence. Below is a table of materials that are accepted in the residential curbside recycling program. Print a recycling guide for your reference and mark your recycling collection dates on your collection calendar. If you know your schedule, fill-in-the-blank calendars are available online. If you are unsure when recycling is picked up, contact your hauler

What to put in the recycling roll cart and glass bin


Include these


Keep out



newspaper phone book  




  • Newspapers and advertisements
  • Magazine inserts
  • Postcards
  • Junk mail/scrap paper
  • Phone books
  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic newspaper bags
  • Plastic packaging around magazines or phone books
  • Foam egg cartons or meat trays
  • Contain scrap paper, junk mail & publications in a paper bag & close to prevent littering when the container is tipped.
  • Paper with tape, staples, clips & spiral notebooks OK

 Flattened Cardboard

  • Flatten cardboard boxes
  • Three foot by three foot pieces maximum
  • Wax-coated cardboard
  • Take-out food containers
  • Pizza boxes
  • Styrofoam or plastic packaging
  • Material must fall freely from recycling container when tipped 


  • Aseptic drink/soy and soup boxes
  • Milk, juice and beverage cartons
  • Rinse food residue from cartons

 cereal boxMail pile





  • Junk mail
  • Paper of all colors 
  • Envelopes (windows & labels OK)
  • Wrapping paper and tubes
  • Copy and office paper
  • Cereal/cracker boxes
  • Paper tubes (towels and paper)
  • Coffee cups or disposable plates
  • Frozen food boxes
  • Bubble wrap envelopes
  • Paper towels
  • Tissue or napkins
  • Paper coated with food, wax, foil or plastic


  • Paper with tape, staples, clips, and spiral notebooks OK
  • Contain scrap paper and junk mail in a paper bag and close


  • Plastic bottles
  • Plastic tubs (yogurt–type containers
    (six ounce or larger),
  • Rigid nursery pots (four inches or larger)
  • Buckets (up to five gallons)
  • Plastic lids
  • Plastic take-out/bakery/deli food containers
  • Bottles that have contained motor oil, pesticides or herbicides.
  • Fruit/bakery plastic clamshells
  • Rinse debris from containers
  • Do not flatten
 metal cansAerosol can  



  • Aluminum, tin and steel food and beverage cans
  • Pet food cans
  • Empty spray paint, hairspray, whipped cream cans


  • Plastic caps


  • Rinse food cans to remove particles
  • Place metal lids inside food cans and crimp closed
  • Do not flatten
  • Do not puncture aerosol cans


  • Metal paint and stain cans 


  • No wet paint in can
  • Recycle metal lids with other scrap metal
  • Keep lid off metal paint can
  • Less than one inch dried paint remaining in can
 scrap metal(Small) ALUMINUM FOIL & SCRAP METAL  
  • Clean aluminum foil or trays
  • Crumple into loosely-packed balls
  • Scrap metal pieces smaller than 30 inches in any direction and less than 30 pounds
  • Nails, screws, door hinges, metal lids

  • Food stuck to foil or baking tray
  • Metal with plastic, food, or other non-metal material attached
  • No automotive scrap metal with grease


  • Contain small metal pieces in larger metal food can and crimp closed
 ON THE SIDE bottles


  • Glass bottles and jars
  • All colors OK
  • Labels OK
  • Light bulbs
  • Dishware/ceramics
  • Drinking glasses
  • Flower vases
  • Mirrors or broken glass of any kind
  • Remove lids and corks
  • Keep glass separate from other recyclables
  • Use red bin or other sturdy, rain-proof container or bucket.


used motor oil

  • Place used motor oil in a clear (see-through) gallon jug with screw top lid next to the mixed recycling container for collection.*
  • Mixing used motor oil with any other liquid
  • Antifreeze
  • Other liquids
  • Residents of multifamily properties should first contact their property manager to determine whether used motor oil is collected by the garbage and recycling company.

Take these materials to a drop-off recycling center 

In Washington County, there are drop-off recycling centers where residents can bring materials for recovery that are not permitted in home recycling programs. Materials not accepted in home recycling programs may be too brittle, unable to make it through the automated sorting equipment process, interrupt or jam the sorting equipment or are just best being sorted and hand-delivered to the recycling facility. Below is a sample list of materials that are not permitted for recycling from home, but may be accepted for recycling or reuse at designated drop-off facilities. Acceptable items can go on and off the list depending on markets. Make sure to call drop-off recycling centers before you go.

  • Appliances: stoves, dishwashers, hot water heaters, washers and dryers.
  • Cell phones: includes battery chargers, batteries and other accessories.
  • Electronics: includes computers, monitors (CRT, LCD), printers (fax, copy, scan), laptops, televisions and more.
  • Footwear: must be clean - athletic shoes, dress shoes, boots, flip flops, cleats, etc.

  • Microwaves: remove the glass turn plate prior to recycling.
  • Rechargeable batteries: cell phone, hand-held drills, camera, camcorder batteries, etc.
  • Styrofoam: block Styrofoam that snaps when folded, Styrofoam sheets, food trays (clean meat, take-out, cups, egg cartons). May be charged nominal fee.
  • Used cooking oil: please remove large pieces of food debris from cooking oil in advance.

Drop-off recycling centers in Washington County

Use the What to Recycle and Where tool to find locations for the materials you would like recycle. Please call the business in advance for directions, hours, materials accepted and any related fees.