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.

clark county logo

Contact Details

Call us
(360) 397-2121 x4352

RESILIENT RECYCLER: Clamshells?! But I don’t even eat Seafood!

clamshells

In 2010 and 2012, Clark County audited household recycling carts and tagged carts that had contaminants in them. One resident called in after their cart was tagged for containing "clamshells" and he said, "How could there be clamshells in my recycling? I don't even eat seafood!"

Plastic clamshells are plastic containers with hinged lids. They're commonly used as take-out food containers or as packing containers for berries and produce. Most of these containers are marked as #1 PET plastics, but they are not the same as #1 PET bottles.

Have you ever tried to melt dark baking chocolate and milk chocolate chips together? If not, let me tell you, it turns into a sticky, lumpy, burnt mess. Because the different types of chocolate have different melting temperatures, they are difficult to melt into one continuous substance. Even if you manage to pour the melted concoction into molds, the different types of chocolate have different textures so half of your chocolate heart may collapse or melt in your hand faster than the rest. Plastics are the same way. If the substance doesn't have the same chemical make-up, they're going to have different melting points and a different durability or flexibility which makes it challenging to form them into a new product. So, plastics must be separated by type to be melted and remolded.

Some plastics are easier to process into new material—such as plastic #1 bottles, #2 plastic jugs, and #5 plastic tubs. These plastics have market that will buy and recycle these materials. But clamshells and other "hard" plastics that are brittle and crack when crushed are not as easy to process, or there is not enough quantity to be profitable.

 When in doubt, check it out.

Not sure if it's recyclable? Visit RecyclingA-Z.com to find out how to properly dispose of your item!

​Additionally, our Material Recovery Facility in Clark County sorts based on shape. Since many of these clamshells and hard plastics are shaped like the #5 tubs, the system cannot tell the difference, leaving recyclers who want to #5 plastic with a plastic sludge of #1 and #5 if they try to process it. But more likely, no one would buy a bale of mixed #1 and #5 plastics.


Plastic take-out food container.

Hinged plastic produce container.

Hinged plastic food-to-go container.

You can be sure that you are recycling plastics right if you follow these four rules:

Rule of Size: The object must be larger than your fist (6-oz yogurt container or larger). No plastic silverware. No lids or caps, unless they are screwed securely onto a bottle.

Rule of Shape: Only containers shaped like bottles, jugs, and tubs can be recycled in your mixed curbside recycling. Plastic bags and some films can be recycled separately at Safeway, Albertsons, or Fred Meyer. Find a location near you here.

Crush Test: Even if it looks like "tub," test it with the crush test. If you give it a stomp or smash and the plastic crinkles, splinters apart or cracks, it's not recyclable. If you stomp on it and it gets as flat as paper, do not recycle it because the sorting system will see "flat" and sort it into a paper bale. And we can't make plastic into paper.

When in Doubt, Keep it Out: It's better to throw something in the trash than to risk it contaminating the rest of the recycling. Unfortunately, our sorting system cannot catch every contaminant. Your efforts to recycle right help keep workers safe and keep our recycling clean so we can provide our markets with good quality material to make into new products.

Resilient Recycler: Name That Garbage - Non-Recycl...
Resilient Recycler: Make Every Day Recycling Day

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://clarkgreenneighbors.org/

Subscribe to Green Blog

How can I protect myself from the Coronavirus?

Wash your hands

Everyday practices to prevent colds, influenza and other respiratory illnesses can also protect people against coronaviruses, including COVID-19. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Learn more about the Coronavirus