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

Ready to learn more about Recycling? Confused about what to put in your Big Blue Recycling Bin? We′ve got you covered! Get the answers you′re looking for, then just for fun, take a quiz to test your smarts!


What NOT to Recycle

The Recycling Process


Recycling Videos

Take a Recycling Quiz

 

How does recycling work?

After you place materials in a recycling bin, either at a business or at residential curbside, recycling trucks come and pick up the materials. Mixed recycling is compressed in the truck and glass and other special materials are stored separately.

The recycling trucks dump the glass and special materials in specific areas at the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) where they are picked up by the companies that will process them into sellable recycled material. The mixed recycling is dumped on the sort floor and piled onto conveyor belts.

On the conveyor belt

First is a belt of large spinning gears that sort out large pieces of cardboard while the rest of the material falls through to lines below based on the size of material. Workers pull off contaminants and specific recyclables. A magnet pulls out small metals and a back eddy sorts out the aluminum cans. Along the line, plastic bottles, plastic jugs, paper, and cans are piled together and compressed into bales. These bales are then shipped to local recyclers or buyers around the world who process the raw material into a substance that can be sold to manufacturers and producers to make new products.

Recyclables are sorted by hand

Our system relies on the sharp eyes and fast hands of our sorters, so it is important to keep them safe by only recycling the accepted materials. If a material has a recycling symbol on it, it may still not be accepted in the curbside collection. We sort based on size and shape. Anything flat will be sorted into paper or cardboard so please keep out small scraps of plastic and metal, like lids and caps, unless they are securely fastened to the bottle. For plastics, don’t look for a number, look at the shape: if it is a bottle, jug, or tub, it is acceptable for curbside recycling. There may be other recycling options beyond the curb for certain materials, but these are separate from the curbside system.

You have an important role in keeping our recycled material high quality by recycling right and eliminating contaminants.

Recycling Videos

Problem Materials (do not recycle)

1. Paper Coffee Cups

1. Paper Coffee Cups

Soiled paper contaminated by food and liquids should not be recycled. Additionally, paper coffee cups often have a plastic or wax lining making them non-recyclable and non-compostable. You can reduce this waste by using a reusable coffee cup!

2. Freezer boxes

2. Freezer boxes

Any type of paper packaging that goes in the freezer or fridge is wet-strength packaging that has a chemical composition to make it more durable and preserve food, but it is not recyclable. Most common are microwave dinner boxes, butter stick boxes, etcetera.

3. Plastic Drink Cups

3. Plastic Drink Cups

Plastic drink cups get smashed during the collection and are difficult to sort out of the mixed recycling. Additionally, you commonly see this material as litter along the road which pollutes the environment. You can reduce this waste by using reusable cups and straws!

4. Plastic lids

4. Plastic lids

Whether plastic or metal, they may end up being sorted into paper bales because they are small and flat. Place metal lids in the can and crimp the lid so that it doesn’t fall out. Screw plastic bottle caps on securely. Discard snap on lids in the trash.

5. Plastic clamshell

5. Plastic clamshell

Plastic clamshells are very common in stores and as take out containers. They often have a hinged lid and are composed of a brittle, clear plastic that shatters into pieces during the sorting process. This material is a challenge to recycle and is not currently accepted by any known local recyclers. Consider buying products in packaging that you know is recyclable to reduce waste.

Learn more

6. Plastic film/bag

6. Plastic film/bag

Plastic bags and other thin, stretchy plastic films and wraps get tangled in the sorting equipment and cause the line to shut down while it’s cut out of the equipment by hand. However, there are recycling options for this material at your local Safeway, Albertson, Fred Meyer and other grocery stores participating in the WRAP program.

Read more

7. Styrofoam

7. Styrofoam

Styrofoam cups and take out containers belong in the trash. Packing peanuts can be reused for packing and mailing and may be accepted by local post offices. Block foam can be dropped off at Central Transfer & Recycling Center (11034 NE 117th Ave, Vancouver, WA). Agilyx in Tigard, Oregon accepts any #6 polystyrene material in their drop off bins but these materials should never go in your curbside recycling in Clark County.

8. Pizza Boxes

8. Pizza Boxes

Any paper or cardboard that is soiled with food or grease is not recyclable. Consider composting these materials with your food waste.

9. Food

Keeping the mixed recycling dry and clean is especially important for the quality of the recycling. Make sure that you empty your containers of food before recycling. Food scraps or soiled paper products are great for composting!

10. Textiles/clothing

10. Textiles/clothing

Clothes are a good resource that can be reused or repurposed. Donate these items to charities or thrift stores if they are in good condition or get crafty and create something out of old fabric scraps. Textiles and clothing should never go in your recycling cart.

11. Tangly items

11. Tangly items

Items such as hoses, wire hangers, ribbons, and other long, stringy materials can get caught in the sorting equipment and cause the line to shut down while the waste materials are removed by hand.

12. Shredded Paper

12. Shredded Paper

Shredded paper is too small and is lost during the sorting. It is possible to contain shredded paper in a paper bag (never a plastic bag), but there is no guarantee that it will not break open during transportation and sorting. Best practice is to drop shredded paper off directly to the transfer station or use a paper shredding company (companies may have fees).

13. Diapers

13. Diapers

It may seem obvious that diapers, especially dirty diapers, should not go in the recycling bin, but we still see them coming down the sort line. Please keep all human and pet wastes and non-recyclables out of the recycling cart. It is especially unsanitary for our workers who sort on the line by hand.

Pin It
Recyclers Only Quiz
Ready to test your knowledge? Take a look at all the info on this Recyclers Only page, then take a short quiz to see how much you’ve learned about recycling in Clark County!
Get started

Steps for Reducing Waste

1. Recycle Right

Recycle Right by only recycling acceptable items. Check out the list of problem materials that should NOT be put in the recycle bin!

2. Recycle Beyond the Curb

Take advantage of programs like WRAP collecting plastic bags at grocery stores and Gimme 5 collecting #5 plastics at Whole Foods Market… and many others!

3. Composting

Composting can be easy! Consider starting a small backyard or apartment compost for food scraps and soiled papers. Learn more at a free workshop with the Master Composter Recyclers or adopt practices to reduce food waste. See more tips on reducing food waste!

4. Reduce Waste through Repair, Reuse, Repurpose, and Second Hand!

Get your items repaired for free by volunteers at a local Repair Café. Use reusable water bottles, bags, and more to reduce single-use materials. Donate and buy second hand to extend the life of materials. And get creative by repurposing materials into crafts and more! Take a look at some more ideas about thoughful consumption.
Curbside Service & Recycling Widget
Look up your curbside schedule, request yard debris pickup, or search the Recycling A–Z directory
Check it out
RecycleRight Free App
Have recycling information right at your finger tips. Download the free Recycle Right App at the Apple App Store, for iPhones or iPads, or Google Play for android devices. Look for RecycleRight and the familiar Big Blue Recycling Cart icon.