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Sustainability at Work

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Go the extra recycling mile: Leave no plastic behind

If your workplace is already doing a good job recycling, and you want to up your recycling game, consider collecting extra plastics for recycling. What are “extra plastics?” They’re plastics that can't go in your regular recycling.

Here’s how to set up an extra plastics recycling collection program at your workplace:

1. Determine what items you want to collect

Pay attention to the “extra” plastics that you see thrown away at your workplace (or misplaced in regular recycling). Plastic to-go food containers, cold drink cups and lids from soda bottles and yogurt are commonly found in offices. For plastic bags, bubble wrap and shrink wrap, you’ll need to set up a separate container.

Plastic lids, cups, to-go containers and utensils

2. Choose a collection area

The kitchen (or very nearby) is often the most convenient, but a storage room or extra large hallway could work, too.

3. Set up collection containers

These can be as simple as a few boxes or bags, or as formal as custom cabinets. For light-weight but bulky plastic items, like to-go containers, we’ve found these containers work well with large clear bags. For small items, like lids, a small bag or sturdy box or bucket is all that’s needed.

4. Label the containers

Use these posters to make it clear what plastics go in the containers: 
Click to download Extra Plastics poster Click to download Plastic Bag recycling poster Click to download Garbage poster
Click on poster images to download printable PDFs.

We recommend using this garbage poster, which has the extra plastics removed to avoid confusion.

5. Set up a drop-off or pick-up system

Decide who will take items to a recycling facility when the collection containers are full.

Look first to your green team or like-minded colleagues. If you have some colleagues who drive to work, one of them may already be commuting near a drop-off location. They might not mind making a delivery now and then. There are many drop-off locations around Portland: find the closest one to you by using Metro’s Find a Recycler website or calling their hotline: 503-234-3000.

If you work in or near downtown Portland, another option is B-Line bicycle delivery service. They will pick up and deliver your extra recyclables for a small charge.

6. Let everyone know!

Once your system is in place, get the word out. Tell your staff what additional items are now being collected and where the containers are located. Be sure to explain any prep that needs to happen (no food residue, “nest” containers to minimize space needed, etc.) and who to talk to if they have any questions. Some businesses encourage staff to bring in these plastics from home as well.