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

Green Blog

News about our community as it relates to the environment

Uncertainty in Recycling Markets - What Does it Mean for Residents?

Uncertainty in Recycling Markets - What Does it Mean for Residents?
Workers separate recyclables on conveyor belts at the West Van Materials Recovery Facility, where 35,000 tons of Clark County's recyclable material are processed each year.

This past week, waste haulers, recyclers, and various business and governmental officials from around Oregon and Washington gathered in an AOR (Association of Oregon Recyclers) Fall Forum to discuss China's new regulations and scrap ban and the impacts this might have on collection programs in our region. The Columbian's Jake Thomas profiled the local challenges in an article in late October. The serious attention that officials are giving the recent changes in the recycling market may have you asking, "Are recycling programs going to disappear?"

No. Like supply and demand for any commodity, recycling markets fluctuate and adjust. Chaz Miller, a long-time veteran of the waste and recycling industry, wrote on, "We've been here before." Recycling markets collapsed in the late 80's and early 90's, and we bounced back. China's tightening regulations are not new either. In 2013, they increased regulations on imports of scrap plastics and paper, primarily out of concern for protecting their environment which was considered at risk due to too much trash being found in some recycling loads delivered to their docks.The most recent, more restrictive, regulation of scrap imports is a clear statement that the Chinese national government is serious. Can you blame them for wanting to make their country clean and healthy?

As the recycling market changes, it's important for everyone to stay informed. Starting with this article, the Green Neighbors program will be producing blog posts that focus on the positive efforts we can take to recycle right locally and the steps being taken in the industry to ensure that our recyclables find a good home after we set them out at the curb.

Why are China's regulations causing such turbulence in the recycling market? One-third of all scrap material collected in the U.S. is shipped overseas, with the majority going to China. In Clark County, the single-stream recycling system that mixes everything together at the curb and then sorts it back out at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) creates the highest rates of contamination. Contamination occurs when residents put the wrong materials in their curbside bins, creating processing problems for the sorting facilities. China's new regulations affect only a small portion of all recycled materials, but the reason it's concerning is that the plastic and paper bales they could start rejecting are a large percentage of curbside collections.

The most important thing for residents to do is to stay informed through local county and city administrations and make sure they are Recycling Right. If you aren't sure if something can be recycled then check the Recycling A to Z directory or put it in the trash. You can refer to your cart lid or the current Recycling Refresher for more information.

December Green Business of the Month: Barnick Chir...