Recycling questions? Ask Metro
Questions about what goes in the bin – and what stays out? Find information online or call Metro at 503-234-3000.
And if you have questions about what’s happening with recycling right now and what you can do, Metro has answers. Check out this FAQ.
With all the buzz about changes to recycling markets and what to keep out of the recycling bin, it’s also helpful to know what goes in the bin.
When it comes to recycling at home or at work in greater Portland, nothing has changed. The list is still the list.
And, Metro recycling experts say, it’s important to keep recycling. As market shifts continue and the system responds, a small percentage of recycling around the state has gone to landfills. But the vast majority of what’s collected from homes and businesses in greater Portland is getting recycled. That is, the stuff that really goes in the bin. So, what is that stuff?
There are three general categories of mixed materials that can go in your home recycling bin.
- Newspapers and magazines: Should be loose. No stringed bundles.
- Scrap paper: Includes phone books, toilet paper rolls, catalogs, shredded paper (bagged) and junk mail (clear plastic windows are OK).
- Food boxes: Includes cereal boxes, cardboard egg cartons, milk and juice cartons, and soup and broth cartons that don’t need refrigeration (also known as aseptic containers).
- Corrugated cardboard and brown paper bags: Flattened. No strings.
- Wrapping paper and cards: No foil, glitter or plastic coatings.
- Bottles with necks: 6 ounces or larger
- Tubs: Includes yogurt, salsa, sour cream and dip containers 6 ounces or larger. Rinsed. No lids.
- Jugs and jars: Includes milk jugs and peanut butter jars. Rinsed. No lids.
- Rigid plant pots: 4-inch or larger.
- Buckets: 5 gallons or smaller. Handles are OK.
- Aluminum: Cans, clean foil, and food trays. No baked-on food.
- Steel and tin food cans. Empty aerosol cans.
- Dry metal paint cans: Less than an inch of paint is OK.
- Small metal items and scrap metal: Includes bottle caps, nails, and metal items smaller than 30 inches and lighter than 30 pounds.
Glass is kept separate from other recyclable materials.
- Bottles and jars: Rinsed. All colors OK. No lids. Nothing broken.
When in doubt, throw it out. Or consider new ways to reuse, repair and share.
Can you skip the plastic?
Plastic is one of life’s short cuts. And recycling it is great – when you can. But there are some easy ways to cut the amount of plastic you end up having to toss.
Avoid or reuse produce bags
A quick rinse of the bags that held your lettuce or broccoli can double the bag's life. Once they’re dry, keep them with your reusable grocery bag in a place where they’ll get used – like your car or bike bag. You can also double up items in bags, or use cloth or mesh bags.
Pass on the package
Delicate cherry tomatoes transport well in containers, but consider buying slicers instead. The same goes for bagged fruit and veggies.
Make a salad instead
Those deli containers are convenient on the run, but some quick weekly prep at home can save you some plastic recycling angst – and some money, too.
Skip the guilt
When it comes to plastic, consumer choices are limited. And that’s frustrating. But reusing your produce bags, making an occasional lunch, or keeping your reusable drink container close at hand can reduce the everyday use – and disposal of – plastic. It’s a start.
-Toby Van Fleet