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: Behind the Scenes

Plastic bags caught in conveyor belt at West Van Materials Recovery Center
Side-loader picking up residential recycling.

While many things are becoming recyclable, not everything with a recycling symbol should go in your curbside cart. Why? To answer that, we have to go behind the scenes…

Let's hop on the Waste Connections recycling truck with our friendly, neighborhood driver. At each house, the driver gives Big Blue a hug with the truck arm and tips the contents into the back of the truck. Glass is placed in a separated top compartment of the truck. Motor oil in clear, gallon jugs and bagged batteries are secured on a bucket shelf on the side of the truck. The driver continues on, navigating the big rig around parked cars and cul-de-sacs with meticulous talent.

Three times a day, he drives back to the West Van Materials Recovery Center to dump his load. He empties glass out down a chute where it piles at the bottom. Then, he pours the oils into a big vat and drops the batteries in a metal crate. Finally, it's time to tip the mixed recyclables onto the sorting floor.

From there, the mixed recycling is piled by Bobcats and dropped onto a conveyer belt. The belt shoots up into a series of rotating disks that allow heavier objects, cans and plastics, to drop onto several belts below depending on their size. Clouds of paper billow up to another belt. It's these disks and belts that plastic bags, hoses, wire, and other tangling contaminants get stuck in—requiring the whole line to be shut down while workers clean out the disks twisted up like hair in a vacuum.

Belts wind through the building, past lines of people snatching out contaminants faster than slap jack players. A rotating magnet and back eddy helps to sort out metal and aluminum, but a large part of the sorting depends on workers' quick eyes and hands.

Once materials are sorted, they fall to the floor where they are baled, stacked, and inspected for visible contaminants.

All sorted materials are sold to buyers who make the materials into a usable form and sell them to industries that produce a variety of products. However, recyclers are very particular about the quality and type of materials they accept, so Waste Connections can only process recyclable materials they know they can sell. They also have to be mindful of the quantity; if they don't collect enough material, it is not profitable to sell to recyclers and not worth the time and energy.

Josy Wright, Recycle Manager for Waste Connections, said, "We have buyers for our accepted materials. The problem is when people put things in that are not on our list." She pointed out a paint brush laying on the sorting floor and a plastic table cloth blocking one of the belts.

Optimistically, she continued, "But there are other programs available for residents to recycle materials that we don't accept—like taking plastic bags and film to retail stores." A variety of materials, such as lumber, electronics, and more can be dropped off directly at the transfer station. You can also search any material in our Recycling A- Z or on the Recycle Right App to see how to properly dispose or recycle it.

Plastic bags can get tangled in the sorting machines, causing breakdowns and damage. Take your plastic bags to your local grocery store where they can be properly recycled.
RESILIENT RECYCLER: Recycle Plastic Bags & Film at...
January 2018 Green Business of the Month