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The City of Portland, Oregon

Sustainability at Work

Providing free tools and expertise to achieve your goals

Phone: 503-823-7037

Email: sustainabilityatwork@portlandoregon.gov

Why "tanglers" should never go in your recycling bin

What are “tanglers”?

Plastic bags, rope, electrical cords, string lights and clothing are all examples of “tanglers” – long or stretchy items that get tangled up in the gears of the machinery that sorts recyclables.

Why are they a menace to recyclers?

When plastic bags and other items get tangled in the machinery, staff must cut them off the gears, one-by-one. This is dangerous for staff and shuts down the entire facility, making it slower and more expensive to sort recyclables and get them ready for the next leg in their journey to becoming new products.

This one-and-a-half-minute video shows what happens when tanglers go into recycling:


Thanks to Baltimore County Department of Public Works for the 'Tangled Up!' video.

What can you do?

Follow Portland’s recycling guidelines, which don’t allow plastic bags, rope, cords, or clothing. Label your workplace recycling bins with free posters so coworkers know what can, and cannot, go into recycling.

There are often drop-off options for recycling or donating plastic bags, electrical cords and string lights, and clothing. Use Metro’s Find a Recycler website or call their hotline at 503-234-3000. Metro's hotline is staffed six days a week and they can tell you the closest drop-off locations to your home or work.

If there aren’t any recycling options, or you aren’t able to drop them off for recycling or donation, they should go in the trash.

Thank you for recycling right!

Learn more