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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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Make a difference in the new year and learn how to recycle right

Use Recycle or Not to help answer your questions.

Because so many people in Portland recycle, together we are making an impact. However, trash in the recycling is causing problems here in Oregon and around the world.

recycle or not?Take a few minutes to learn what can and can’t go in your recycling bin:

  1. Ignore recycling symbols on items. These symbols do not mean you can recycle the item in Portland.
  2. Check the recycling guide. Be sure to follow Portland’s guide, since recycling can be very different in other places.
  3. If you’re not sure, put it in the trash. It may feel wrong, but you’re protecting the environment by keeping trash out of your recycling bin.

Some things are better in the trash

These items can jam the recycling sorting machines or are too difficult to make into new products:

  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic lids
  • Take-out containers
  • Envelopes with bubble wrap

Caution: Don’t put these in your bins

  • Batteries and things with batteries in them — like tools, watches, toys and “singing” cards — can start fires or explode in trash or recycling, so they should be dropped off for safe disposal.
  • Electronics like old laptops, computers and TVs must be dropped off for safe disposal (it’s state law).

There are lots of drop-off locations — find one near you www.oregonmetro.gov/findarecycler.

recycle or not Insta

Not sure? Send a pic!

Next time you aren’t sure about an item, send a photo to @recycleornot on Instagram. Or visit RecycleOrNot.org to see some of the most confusing items and find out where they belong. It’s new and made just for Portland-area residents. Para español, visite ReciclarONo.org o envíe una foto del artículo que usted quiere reciclar a @reciclarono en Instagram.

Play the game

Recycle or Not is also a game. Swipe right, swipe left in both English and Spanish.

A decade of sustainable improvements for garbage and recycling in Portland

Collection changes and community action help reduce waste and increase materials recovery.

Coordinating the recovery of glass, paper, plastic and metal for an entire city is no small feat: We partner with state and regional agencies like Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Metro to perform research and align on messages to educate the public. That’s a lot of committee meetings! We also spend a lot of time out in the community.

One of Portland’s many garbage driversDid you know that our bureau’s primary role is to oversee the administrative rules and rate process for Portland’s residential and commercial garbage and recycling companies? We have built good relationships with Portland’s nearly 30 franchised residential and permitted commercial garbage and recycling companies to administer rules that protect both the customer and the service provider. The following list highlights our achievements over the last decade related to the industry that the experts call “materials management.”

  1. Food scraps composting added to residential curbside collection in 2011.
  2. Plastic bag ban began in 2011.
  3. Housing deconstruction policy started in 2016 and has been updated for 2020.
  4. Clean Fleet on the Road for garbage and recycling trucks was improved in 2016.
  5. Business food scraps regional requirement passed in 2018.
  6. Single-use plastics reduction policy passed in 2019.
  7. The Master Recycler program graduated 870 people over the last decade; those graduates volunteered almost 41,000 hours and connected with over 4 million community members around the region.
  8. The 34th Fix-It Fair season is taking place in 2019-2020.

New year, new goals

Looking ahead to 2020, our solid waste and recycling team will work to advance these priorities:

  1. Emphasize recycling improvements at multifamily homes and communities.
  2. Implement business food scraps separation requirement for the largest businesses in the region.
  3. Work with DEQ and statewide stakeholders to modernize Oregon’s recycling system.
  4. Coordinate installation of truck side guards on garbage and recycling trucks for pedestrian and cyclist safety.