8 things you want to recycle at home – but please don’t

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Calls and emails come in waves on a typical day at Metro’s recycling information center.

“You will definitely want to get that to a hazardous waste facility.” Pause. “May I get your zip code and find a place closest to you?”

Well-sourced staff patiently and meticulously walk callers through a mind-boggling number of recycling questions. Oregonians want to do right by the environment. And now, with changes to recycling markets causing ripples across Oregon, the U.S and Europe, it can be confusing.

But what goes in your home recycling bin hasn’t changed. And it’s more important than ever to keep the stuff that doesn’t go in your bin out. In the greater Portland area, almost all of the stuff getting collected as recycling from homes and businesses is still getting recycled. Keeping the stuff out that doesn’t belong there helps.

Here are eight things to keep out of recycle bins

1. Plastic bags

Do not put any kind of plastic bag in your recycling bin. Plastic bags, as well as “film” plastic like the stuff your toilet paper comes wrapped in, create huge headaches for recycling facilities. They jam up machinery and shut down work. It can take costly hours for facility workers to cut away plastic bags from the sorting equipment. Some retail locations such as grocery stores may take plastic film for recycling. Check with the stores you visit.

2. Plastic to-go containers

We see these clear plastic containers everywhere. They are popular packaging for anything from hardware supplies to deli items and produce. It can be confusing to find the triangular chasing-arrow recycling symbol on many of them but that symbol does not indicate what goes in the home recycling bin. Although some of these containers used to be recyclable at local facilities, recent changes in recycling markets leave them with no place to go. They now belong in the garbage.

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