Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program was developed and is maintained by Clark County Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt. Funding for this project provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Clark County makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided on this web site. However, due to the possibility of transmission errors, HTML browser capabilities, changes made since the last update to the site, etc., neither Clark County, nor any agency, officer, or employee of Clark County warrants the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information published by this system, nor endorses any content, viewpoints, products, or services linked from this system, and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of such information. Portions of such information may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at his or her own risk.

In offering information on the Web, Clark County seeks to balance our requirement for public access with the privacy needs of individual citizens. Information that appears on the Clark County Web site is part of the public record. By law, it is available for public access, whether by telephone request, visiting county offices, or through other means.

This site contains links to other websites. Clark County is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content, accuracy or opinions expressed on such websites, and such websites are not investigated, monitored or checked by us for accuracy or completeness. Inclusion of any linked website on our site does not imply approval or endorsement of the linked website by us.

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News about our community as it relates to the environment

Resilient Recycler: six things you're recycling wrong (& how to do it right)


Know before you throw! Putting items in your bin that are not accepted in our curbside recycling system can damage equipment, contribute to pollution, and reduce the ability of manufacturers to use our recyclables to make new products. We call this "wish-cycling": putting something in your bin in hopes that it will be recycled, but it is not on the list of accepted materials. Check out this list of six non-recyclable items you might be "wish-cycling", along with some alternative methods for disposal. 

1. Clothing

It's almost that time of year when you can finally clear out the clothing that went unworn this winter to make room for your summer wardrobe. If you're thinking about doing some spring cleaning and getting rid of any clothing, recycle it, but not in your curbside bin! When clothing items are "wish-cycled" and put into the curbside cart with mixed recyclables, they have the potential to get caught in machinery at the recycling facilities, causing shutdowns and hazards for workers. When possible, give clothes that you no longer want to family or friends, or donate them to a nonprofit that provides clothing for those in need. Give your textiles and clothing a new life by donating to thrift stores such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. To find nonprofits and thrift stores to donate your clothing to, check out our thrift store map

Another way to properly dispose of old clothing is through GemTex, which is a recycler that collects unwanted textiles for recycle and repurpose. Their textile collection boxes can be found throughout Clark County; to find a GemText donation drop-off near you, check out their online map.  

2. Disposable coffee cups

Some paper and plastic materials are recyclable in our curbside bins, so why aren't the paper and plastic disposable coffee and drink cups? This is because paper and plastic coffee cups are made from a variety of different materials which makes them very difficult, and expensive, for manufacturers to breakdown, separate into the different materials, and recycle: paper cups contain a plastic lining which keeps the paper from disintegrating when the cup is filled with liquid and plastic cups are made from a variety of plastics mixed together. While there are no recycling options for disposable coffee cups in Clark County and they should be disposed of in the garbage, you can make a difference by opting out of using them altogether. It's time to ditch the disposables; keep disposable cups out of the landfill by bringing your own reusable cup instead. 

3. Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are your local recycling facilities' worst nightmare. Do not put plastic bags or film of any kind in your curbside bin; this includes bagging your recyclables before putting them in the bin. Plastic bags and wrap cause damage to machinery at the local recycling sorting facilities, and require that the system is shut down to untangle the bags and wrap from the machines. It is best to avoid using plastic bags altogether by bringing your own reusable bags when you go shopping. If you must use plastic bags or plastic overwrap (from items like toilet paper), you can collect and dispose of them at select retailers in Clark County including Safeway, Fred Meyer, and Albertsons stores. For a detailed list of locations, search "plastic bags" in the Recycling A-Z directory. When plastic bags are recycled via collection at retail stores, they are collected by Trex, a company that recycles plastic bags and wrap to make a sturdy, weather-resistant product that is used to make decking, fencing, and benches. 

4. Greasy pizza boxes

Many of us indulge in a hot, greasy pizza every once in a while. Pizza boxes may be cardboard, but once that cardboard is soiled with grease and food residue, it is no longer recyclable. However, there is a trick to avoid having to put the entire box in the garbage to be sent to the landfill: tear off the clean part of the box (as long as it's not greasy). That part can then be put in your mixed recycling bin while the dirty, greasy piece goes into the garbage. Never put food-soiled products into your curbside cart!

5. Frozen or refrigerated food/beverage boxes and containers

Any box or container that is made to spend long periods of time either refrigerated or frozen is not recyclable. This is due to a chemical additive nicknamed "wet-strength", which is added to paper or paperboard fibers to help these materials withstand humid and wet conditions without disintegrating. However, the additive is problematic because it causes those materials to "pulp" at a different rate than other paper recyclables, making them a headache for paper mills. Frozen and refrigerated boxes can be difficult to avoid, but it is best to find an alternative. If you do purchase an item packaged in "wet-strength", dispose of these in the garbage. 

​6. Take-out containers and "clam shells"

Food take-out containers or "clam shells" do not belong in your mixed recycling cart. Clam shells are so called because they are hinged like their namesake; these plastic containers are often used as packaging for berries, salad, and bakery items. Take-out containers can be made from a variety of different materials and are often soiled with food, making them difficult if not impossible to recycle into a new product. Clam shells are not recyclable in our system as their ability to flatten means they often get sorted incorrectly by the machines in our system and get mixed in with paper or other types of plastic. Additionally, never put "compostable" or styrofoam take-out containers in your recycling cart; these should be disposed of in the garbage. 

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