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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Contact Details

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(360) 397-2121 x4352

Household hazardous waste

  • Electronic waste

    Disposal of Electronic Waste

    Unwanted electronic products can be recycled free-of-charge through E-Cycle Washington. Local drop-off sites are available to collect the following items: computers, monitors, laptops, tablet computers, televisions, portable DVD players and e-readers.

    According to the Washington State Department of Ecology website, “The majority of the electronics are disassembled for recycling here in Washington. Some electronics go out-of-state for processing and some materials are exported for recycling at approved facilities. However, obsolete electronics are not exported to third-world countries. Metals, plastics and glass are separated and sold as commodities to be reused as raw materials in the manufacturing of new products. On average only 2% of the total volume goes to a landfill - mostly particle board from cabinet TVs. Toxic materials such as batteries, leaded glass, circuit boards and fluorescent tubes must be managed properly by approved recyclers. Ecology also requires recyclers to meet standards designed to protect worker safety and health as well as the environment.”

    For a complete list of drop-off locations in Clark County, use Recycling A-Z and type "electronic materials" into the search box.

  • Pesticide labels

    How To Read a Pesticide Label

    The labeling of pesticides is more complicated than most other chemical products. This is necessary because many pesticides are more toxic than other chemicals found around the home. Warnings, use specifications, and directions must be much more complete and detailed.

    You can tell the toxicity of a pesticide by looking at the signal word on the label. Pesticides are classified into Toxicity Categories I – IV (Category I is the most toxic, IV the least toxic). The signal words and the precautionary statements required on the label are different for each category. The following Toxicity Rating Scale indicates the requirements for pesticide labels.

    Signal Words on Pesticides

    Category If the label has this signal word... This is how toxic the product is (approximate amount needed kill an average person).

    • Highly Toxic DANGER, POISON – A few drops to one teaspoon
    • Moderately Toxic WARNING – One teaspoon to one ounce
    • Slightly Toxic CAUTION – Over one ounce
    • Not Toxic – Not Required
    If a product label does not provide ingredients or adequate instructions on how to safely use the product, then you should consider buying a product that does list this basic information. You can also contact the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer and request a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for that product. An MSDS lists the ingredients in a hazardous product, its manufacturer, its hazards to safety and health, and precautions to follow when using it.
  • Use it safely

    Safety guidelines

    • Follow the directions on the label.
    • Use proper safety equipment.
    • Have a working fire extinguisher available.
    • Wear protective clothing as necessary.
    • Post emergency numbers near your telephone.
    • Leave products in their original container with labels intact and visible.
    • Do not mix products unless directed to do so by the label’s directions.
    • Use only what is needed. Using twice as much product does not mean twice the desired results.
    • If pregnant, avoid any potential exposure to toxic chemicals. Many toxic products have not been tested for their effects on unborn children.
    • Avoid wearing soft contact lenses. They can absorb product vapors and damage your eyes.
    • Use products in well-ventilated areas. Work outdoors whenever possible. If working indoors, open windows and use an exhaust fan to blow the air outside rather than re-circulating it indoors. If you feel dizzy or nauseous, take a break and go outside.
    • Do not eat, drink, or smoke while using hazardous products. Traces of hazardous chemicals can be carried from hand to mouth. Smoking can also start a fire if the product is flammable.
    • Clean up after using hazardous products.
    • Seal products and refasten all childproof caps.
    • Do not leave hazardous products unattended.

    Chemical Exposure

    The effects of chemicals on human health and the environment depend on the dose, concentration, duration and frequency, and route of exposure. People have different reactions to chemicals, some reacting to small doses and concentrations, while others require a larger dose or concentration to react.

    Hazardous materials may enter the body through:

    • Ingestion: To prevent accidental ingestion of a hazardous material, avoid putting anything in your mouth while working with hazardous materials. Always keep food, drinks, or other items that could come into contact with your mouth (e.g., cigarettes) away from the work area to avoid contamination. Always wash your hands before handling food or touching your face or eyes. Never place hazardous materials in food or beverage containers.
    • Inhalation: To ensure adequate ventilation, work outside whenever possible. If you must work inside, use a fan to direct air away from the work area and towards an open window. Always ensure that you have adequate ventilation. If you can smell the hazardous material you are working with, you might need to use a mask or respirator for adequate protection. Be aware that not all hazardous chemicals have an odor (e.g., carbon monoxide, methyl alcohol).
    • Absorption: Hazardous material can enter your body from contact with your skin or other exposed body surfaces. Avoid splashing and wear protective clothing to protect yourself.

    Preventing Accidents

    There are two approaches to eliminating accidents:

    • Eliminate unsafe conditions. Work areas and equipment should be examined to determine if any unsafe conditions (e.g., frayed electrical wires, improper ventilation or lighting, leaking containers of hazardous material) exist. Any unsafe condition should be corrected before beginning work in the area.
    • Reduce unsafe acts. Working in a safe environment requires you to examine those actions you control while being aware of those situations beyond your control. Care must be taken to ensure that any actions taken to protect or reduce accidents in one area do not cause or set up the conditions for accidents in some other area.

    Protect Yourself with the Proper Equipment

    • Clothing: To avoid direct contact of chemicals with your skin, choose clothing that both covers bare skin and provides a barrier for protection against contact.
    • Ear protection: Ear plugs or ear muffs to protect your ears from high volume noise.
    • Eye Protection: Select goggles or safety glasses to prevent liquids or fumes from getting into your eyes.
    • Foot: Boots made of PVC or heavy rubber will protect again chemical spills.
    • Hand: Gloves made of the proper material to protect against the type of chemical you are using. Consult a salesperson at your local hardware store.
    • Respiratory: Wearing a face mask or using a respirator can help prevent against inhaling fumes.

    Fire Hazards

    When working with hazardous products, always read and follow the directions on the label. Do not mix products unless instructed to do so by the directions on the label. To prevent fumes from escaping, keep all containers closed when working with the hazardous material.

    If the product is flammable and/or explosive, use and store away from any sources of heat, flames, sparks, or ignitions. Gas pilot lights, hot water tanks, lit cigarettes and cigars, light switches, and garage door openers can all be ignition sources. Fuel, oxygen, and heat are required for combustion to occur. If you remove any of these three elements a fire can be extinguished.

    Place all solvent covered rags in a sealed container after use and before cleaning. If you clean them yourself, wash the rags separately in a washing machine with a full water level of hot water and detergent. Rinse the washing machine thoroughly after cleaning the rags. Line dry the rags rather than using a dryer; the high heat of a dryer can ignite any flammable vapors remaining in the rags.

    Keep a working fire extinguisher readily available in your home and work area. Make sure the extinguisher you have is appropriate for the fire you are attempting to extinguish.

  • Store it safely

    Be aware of the hazards in your home or garage

    Always be aware of the type of hazard you are bringing into your home or garage. Some hazardous product containers are similar in appearance to food or beverage containers. Children who haven’t learned to read or adults that have problems with their vision may mistake a container with hazardous material for a food or beverage container.
    • Keep products out of the reach of children and animals, and away from food.
    • Clearly label all hazardous products before storing.
    • Never store hazardous products/wastes in food or beverage containers.
    • Make sure lids and caps are tightly sealed and childproof; never leave a container of hazardous material open and accessible to children or animals.
    • Keep containers dry to prevent corrosion.
    • Corroded containers should be placed in a labeled plastic bucket with a secure lid.
    • Store volatile chemicals in a well-ventilated area.
    • Store rags used with flammable products in a sealed and marked container.
    • Keep flammable or combustible products away from heat, flames, or other sources of ignition.
    • Store gasoline in approved containers, in ventilated areas, and away from ignition sources.
    • Know where flammable materials are stored and how to extinguish them.
  • What’s a hazardous product?

    How to identify hazardous products

    Hazardous products such as those mentioned above have the potential to harm people, pets, and wildlife. To identify potentially hazardous products, look for words on the product label such as poison, danger, warning, caution, or flammable. Hazardous products should be taken to special collection facilities for disposal. They should never be thrown in the trash because they can pose threats to public health and the environment. These threats vary according to specific properties of the product.

    Things To Consider When Purchasing Products

    • Before purchasing a product, read the label to get an indication of its properties. Be aware that the word “non-toxic” is an advertising word and has no federal regulatory definition.
    • Choose products with child resistant packaging.
    • Avoid aerosol products when possible. Aerosols disperse substances that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs and absorbed into the bloodstream.
    • Use non-hazardous or less-hazardous alternative products and recipes. One general household cleaner can serve many purposes; you do not need a different product for every cleaning problem.
    • If safer alternatives are not available, buy only the amount you will need. Make sure that you understand what hazards are associated with a product’s use or disposal.
    • Flammable: Can easily be set on fire or ignited.
    • Explosive/reactive: Can detonate or explode through exposure to heat, sudden shock, or pressure.
    • Corrosive/caustic: Can burn and destroy living tissues when brought in contact.
    • Toxic/poisonous: Capable of causing injury or death through ingestion, inhalation, or absorption. Some toxic substances are known to cause cancer, genetic damage, and fetal harm.
    • Radioactive: Can damage and destroy cells and chromosomal material. Radioactive substances are known to cause cancer, mutations, and fetal harm.
    Some materials may exhibit more than one chemical hazard; for example, they might be flammable and toxic or corrosive and combustible.

    Other Types of Household Hazardous Products

    • Medications: Pharmaceutical compounds (i.e., antibiotics, reproductive hormones, and other prescription and nonprescription drugs).
    • Sharps: Hypodermic needles, syringes with needles attached, intravenous (IV) tubing with needles attached, scalpel blades, and lancets.
    • E-waste: Electronic waste such as computers, televisions, monitors, and printers.
    • Fluorescent lights: It is important to properly recycle compact fluorescent lights (cfl) because they contain small amounts of mercury. There are multiple sites for proper disposal of fluorescent bulbs in Clark County. Visit Light Recycle to search for a drop-off location close to you. Clark Public Utilities will take up to six unwanted cfl bulbs and exchange them for one new LED bulb at their local offices.
  • Unlucky thirteen

    Not Part of the ‘Big Blue’ In-Crowd

    There are a lot of items that should NOT go in the blue curbside recycling cart. We know that people get excited about recycling and it feels good to do the right thing. Often that leads to ‘wish-cycling’ and our response to that is ‘when in doubt, leave it out.’ We’ve made a list of thirteen of those items and, although there are many more, we hope you’ll make an extra effort to dispose of these where they really belong.

    If you aren’t sure whether an item belongs in Big Blue, please do not put it there, no matter how much you would like to recycle it. Having non-recyclable items mixed into the cart creates additional work for the crews who have to sort it out and results in the wrong materials being bundled together and sent off to the markets where they may cause entire loads to be redirected to the garbage. It can also cause damage to machinery, injury to workers and may harm the environment.

    Read more

     

    unlucky 13 article

    Here are some common wish-cycled materials:

    1. Plastic Bags/plastic wrap

    1. Plastic Bags/plastic wrap

    Plastic bags and wrap are the worse items to place in Big Blue. From the bags you get at the grocery store to the wrapper on your bread or paper towels, none of these items belong in the recycling cart. They can clog the machines and cause a safety hazard for workers who have to cut them out with knives. This also creates down time for the system and that costs all of us money. Return plastic bags and film to your local grocery store to be recycled.

    Learn more

    2. Glass

    2. Glass

    All glass bottles and jars belong in a bin next to Big Blue. It’s important not to put them in the cart because they can break and cause injury to workers plus damage to machinery. And remember, no lids, ceramics, window glass, drinking glasses or incandescent light bulbs. All of these unrecyclable items belong in the garbage (unless they can be donated for reuse). CFLs belong with Household Hazardous Waste.

    3. Sharps

    Hypodermic needles, syringes and lancets are dangerous because they can injure people and spread germs or disease. Needles placed in Big Blue will then go over the sort line where workers can get stuck by them. This could result in medical testing, undue stress, and possibly serious medical conditions.

    Learn more

    4. Cords/Wires/Tangly things

    4. Cords/Wires/Tangly things

    Although these items may be made of recyclable materials, they belong in the garbage because of their shape. Materials on this list include hoses, ribbons, wire clothes hangers and rope. They can wrap around equipment and break the machinery used to sort the mixed recycling. Place these items in the garbage.

    5. Block Foam

    5. Block Foam

    Everyone gets this stuff at some point in time. It takes up lots of room in the garage and needs to be kept clean and dry in order to be recycled. It isn’t taken at the curb but you can drop it off at one of the Green Neighbor Recycle Day events. Just have a small piece or two? Put it in the garbage – it costs more in greenhouse gas emissions to drive it to be recycled. If you have a lot of block foam to dispose of, or if you collect a bunch from your friends and neighbors, you could drive it to Farwest Fibers.

    Learn more

    6. Food Soiled Paper

    6. Food Soiled Paper

    Always put food-soiled paper in the garbage. This includes items such as used napkins, paper towels, paper plates or pizza boxes (some people tear the soiled lid off the pizza box and recycle the bottle half in Big Blue). Food residue weakens the quality of the paper for recycling and can contaminate other materials in the same load.

    7. To-Go Containers and Cups

    7. To-Go Containers and Cups

    All containers and cups that you bring food or drinks home in belong in the garbage. They are likely food-soiled but even if you rinse them thoroughly, they likely contain some level of plastic or special chemical that prevents them from breaking down or getting soggy when food or drink is placed in them. This plastic/chemical makes the garbage only. Try to bring a reusable cup or mug when you stop out for a drink and you might consider bringing reusable containers to bring home your leftovers in.

    8. Loose Shredded Paper

    8. Loose Shredded Paper

    Paper that has been shredded is too small to sort. The pieces drop through the equipment and cause a mess at the recycling facility. Don’t shred paper unless it really needs to be shredded for security reasons. Shredding shortens the fibers and makes it much less desirable for use at the papermill. It can be placed in your backyard compost pile and will quickly break down. If you feel like you must place it in Big Blue, put it in a paper bag with the top stapled shut, but only as a last resort.

    9. Clothing

    9. Clothing

    Clothing is not recyclable but it is definitely reusable! Take your unwanted clothing to a local thrift store. Even if it can’t be worn again, they will likely have an outlet just for the fabric. If you just don’t have time for that, it needs to go into the garbage.

    10. Household Hazardous Waste

    10. Household Hazardous Waste

    Household cleaning products, automotive fluids, garden chemicals and other hazardous materials from your home should be taken to the transfer stations during HHW collections hours on the weekends. Paint can be returned to some local paint stores.

    Learn more

    11. Electronics (E-Waste) and Batteries

    11. Electronics (E-Waste) and Batteries

    Television sets, computers, monitors and other electronic products you no longer want can be disposed of at numerous locations in Clark County for no charge. To get a list of drop-off locations, visit Recycling A-Z and type ‘electronic materials’ in the search box. Household batteries should be placed in a zip-loc bag and placed on the lid of Big Blue.

    Learn more

    12. Diapers

    12. Diapers

    Diapers and other sanitary products are not recyclable and should not be placed in Big Blue. Please place these items into the garbage.

    13. Plastic Packaging

    13. Plastic Packaging

    Items purchased in plastic packaging or ‘blister packs’ should not be recycled in Big Blue. If you want to go the extra mile, you can separate any paper or cardboard from the plastic and recycle that while placing the plastic in the garbage. Plastics are a long and complicated topic. Visit our page dedicated just to plastics for more detailed information.

    Learn more

  • Fact Sheets

    Clark County offers a multitude of fact sheets and booklets that provide ways you can actively help reduce pollution in our waters.

  • How to recycle

    As humans, we generate lots of “stuff.” Caring for our planet, our health, and our community means making sure the stuff we don’t use, need, or want anymore is, whenever possible, reused or recycled, and finally, properly disposed of.

    Read more

    mcr how to recycle

    When you toss or recycle, where is away?

    In Clark County, private companies, under contract to the county and/or to cities within the county provide recycling collection, sorting, processing, and marketing services. Contracted haulers provide residential recycling collection in the cities and throughout the county.

    There are no active public landfills in the county. Most waste from Clark County is barged up the Columbia River to the Finley Buttes landfill near Boardman, Oregon. Three garbage transfer stations offer free drop-off of recyclable materials during all business hours and free drop-off of household hazardous wastes on specified dates each month.

    Learn more about transfer stations

    • West Van Materials Recovery Center
    • Central Transfer Recycling Center
    • The Washougal Transfer Station

    Closing the Materials Loop – Curbside Recycling

    Curbside recycling is available to ALL residents of Clark County. In some cities and urban growth areas, curbside recycling is mandatory. The City of Vancouver uses rolling carts for residential curbside recycling. In all areas, recycling is picked up on the same day as garbage (self-haul garbage customers are given a recycling schedule). Residents are assigned a pick-up day when they sign up for garbage service.

    How do I know who my recycling service provider is?

    In all areas of Clark County except the greater Woodland area, contact Waste Connections, Inc. (360) 892-5370 or customerhelp@wasteconnections.com.

    If you live within the City of Woodland, contact Waste Control at (360) 225-7808.

    What goes in the recycling cart?

    Check out this pdfCurbside recycling guide for Vancouver’s roll carts. Please note that the following items are often confused as being recyclable in your curbside bin. Sadly, they are not!

    These items should NOT go in your recycling cart:

    • Lids from plastic containers
    • Styrofoam™
    • Plastic take-out containers from restaurants
    • Any box that contained frozen food
    • Grocery produce “clamshells” often used for cherry tomato or berry containers
    • Plastic bags
    • Glass

    Glass is collected in its own container. Clamshell plastic items and Styrofoam can be recycled at Far West Recycling. Plastic bags (and other film plastics) can be recycled in drop off containers in the entryway to your local grocery stores.

    Some items that don’t go in the recycling cart can be recycled

    Many items are not accepted in your curbside cart but can be dropped off at one of the local transfer stations, or at other recycling businesses. Not sure what can be recycled or where?

    Check out the A-Z Recycling Directory

    Self-Haul Recycling

    A community building idea that makes a difference

    Get together with your neighbors or neighborhood association to pool your recyclables or materials that cannot go in the roll cart, and take turns doing a run with them to the transfer station or a collection site. It’s a great way to build community, save money, and reduce individual car trips!

    Can I self-haul my own recycling?

    Yes indeed. Both transfer stations will accept your self-hauled recyclables. West Van Materials Recovery Center offers a buy back program for some recyclable commodities. Please call (360) 737-1727 for specific information on the types of commodities accepted, minimum quantities to qualify, material preparation requirements and current buy back rates.

    Other Items accepted for a fee:

    • Yard debris
    • Clean wood
    • Sheet rock
    • Appliances (best to donate working appliances to those who can use them)

    Yucky Poison Stuff: Household Hazardous Wastes

    Many household products (herbicides, pesticides, toxic cleaning products, paint, etc.) contain hazardous chemicals that can, if not properly disposed of, make their way into the environment, contaminate waterways and harm pets and wildlife. If you live in Clark County, there are many opportunities to properly dispose of hazardous waste from your household. You can take it to any one of the three transfer stations.

    Compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs are considered hazardous waste. They contain mercury and it is important to dispose of them properly – not in your trash can. Dispose of CFLs at any of the many locations listed on the Clark County website. You can also check out Light Recycle for more information and to find more collection locations.

    Learn more about how to identify household hazardous waste (HHW) in your own home.

    What About Electronics?

    Washington has a great product stewardship program to help salvage usable materials from used electronics and to remove the toxic materials contained in some items. The majority of the electronics are disassembled for recycling here in Washington. Some electronics go out-of-state for processing and some materials are exported for recycling at approved facilities. Metals, plastics and glass are separated and sold as commodities to be reused as raw materials in the manufacturing of new products. Clark County maintains a complete list of locations where you can recycle electronics in our area.

    Households can recycle these items for free!

    • Televisions
    • Computers
    • Computer monitors
    • Portable or laptop computers including tablets
    • E-readers (also called e-book readers)

    E-cycle is a great Washington resource. This site can help you find out where you can recycle electronic items in your community.

    Plastic Bags and Wrap

    It’s clear: Plastic wraps, bags and film packaging abound. From the wrapper around paper towels, to the plastic enveloping a new shirt, to the sleeve holding the newspaper, to a plastic bag containing bread. Unfortunately, these materials are often wasted or become litter instead of being properly recycled as valuable resources to produce new products.

    You can return clean, dry, empty plastic bags/film/wrap to recycling drop off locations. Look for recycling bins near store entrances. Enter your zip code at plasticfilmrecycling.org to find locations near you. These recyclable plastics include:

    • Retail, Newspaper, Dry Cleaning, Bread, Produce, and also other Plastic Bags labeled #2 and #4
    • Zip Close Food Storage bags (clean and dry)
    • Furniture and Electronic wrap
    • Plastic cereal box liners (if it tears like paper do not include)
    • Plastic shipping envelopes, including Tyvek ®, bubble wrap and air pillows (Remove labels and/or deflate)
    • Product Wrap (used on paper towels, diapers, bathroom tissue, water bottles)
    • Any film packaging or bag that has the How2Recycle Label

    The City of Vancouver has information about recycling plastic bags and wrap in Vancouver, Washington.

    Recycling Construction Debris

    “If yard debris, construction and demolition wastes, and a few other materials are considered, the amount of ‘garbage’ that could be easily recycled exceeds 60-70%.” (ref. Hlavka, R. “Recyclables in the Wrong Can”). Do your part to help properly dispose of construction debris! Here are some great resources:

    The Clark County construction salvage and recycling toolkit offers listings to help builders, developers, architects and residents find resources to assist with commercial and residential projects. This can result in lowering project costs by saving time and money through reuse and recycling of materials that would otherwise go the landfill. This free publication contains over 60 recycling sites within a ten-mile distance of the Vancouver side of the Columbia River.

    Transfer stations and several companies in Clark County, WA accept construction debris (charges may apply), used motor oil and other automotive wastes. See www.RecyclingA-Z.com for a full list.

    The ReBuilding Center (Portland, OR) offers DeConstruction Services, a sustainable alternative to conventional demolition. Working by hand, their skilled crews salvage up to 85% of a building’s major components for reuse.

    Metro Regional Services publishes pdfMetro Construction Industry Recycling Toolkit that lists recycling locations in the Portland area that accept construction debris. The Toolkit is also available at the Clark County offices. Another wonderful resource is the Portland Metro Recycling Information hotline: (503) 234-3000.

    Have something else to recycle?

    Do you have something else to recycle but don’t know where to take it? Check out Recycling A-Z, the ultimate recycling directory for Clark County, Washington.

    What about re-use?

    EPA studies show that a community benefits from the creation of jobs from reuse. Keeping good stuff in use helps our community, and is a smart thing to do. If you have items you no longer want or need, consider donating them. There are many thrift stores in Clark County that accept usable items. Make a difference by supporting sharing and re-use in our community.

  • Home Assessments

    Use our home assessment forms to conduct Green Audits around your house! First, download the pdf for each assessment from the green box on the right. After you’ve completed each assessment, come back and click on the corresponding button below to report your results to us online. This info will help us provide better resources and tips for you in the future!