Although recycling at the curb is the same for now, industry changes require explanations...

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Bonita Davis, a Metro Master Recycler, attended the August Woodstock Neighborhood Association meeting to clarify recycling Dos and Donts. Don Snedecor (at left), a Woodstock resident and Master Recycler, assisted in the presentation. Are you continually confused about what you should put into your blue recycling cart and what you should not? Well, join the club.

At the Woodstock Neighborhood Association's August 1st meeting, Bonita Davis, a Metro Master Recycler, gave a presentation to try to clarify recycling in general – but, as a result of audience interest, she put an emphasis on what can be recycled in the blue cart, and what cannot.

First, Davis gave a little background on why it has become even more difficult recently to figure out just what can be recycled. "Recently China has rejected loads of recycling sent to them for processing from the United States, due to contaminated loads. That could mean contamination from food, plastic mixed in with paper, or any other type of unwanted material in the load."

The consensus in the recycling community is that now it is more important than ever to pay attention to recycling details, even though it might be annoying. We do not want our recycling to go away completely!

Things that CAN be put into the blue cart are:

· PLASTIC: Bottles with necks that are 6 oz. or larger, tubs 6 oz. or larger, plant pots (not crinkly) 4 or larger, buckets 5 gallons or smaller, milk jugs rinsed well. The plastic allowed in blue carts is decided by the shape and size of the container. The numbers on the bottom are no longer relevant. And do NOT recycle tops and lids! They get stuck between sheets of paper in the sorting process, and so the plastic contaminates the load of paper.

· METAL: Aluminum, tin and steel food cans, empty dry metal paint cans, empty aerosol cans, aluminum foil (clean and bunched up), scrap metal smaller than 30 feet and less than 30 lbs.

· PAPER: Newspapers, magazines, catalogues, phone books, flattened cardboard boxes, rinsed cartons (milk, juice, soup), scrap paper, shredded paper in a paper bag.

Things that should NOT be put into the blue cart:

· NO PLASTIC BAGS OF ANY KIND SHOULD GO INTO THE BLUE CART. Plastic bags can melt into a sticky gum in the sorting machine, and must be manually removed. You can recycle those at many supermarkets, though.

· Refrigerator and freezer boxes; paper that is plastic coated; to-go-coffee cups; food pouches (e.g., Kids' yogurt); tubes of any kind; plastic clamshells; plastic lids; photographs; diapers; food contaminants.

Regarding coffee cups, there is a new push to encourage people to follow the slogan, BYOC (Bring Your Own Cup). There are approximately 50 million disposable one-time-use coffee cups, all non-recyclable, used each year in the Portland metro area alone, according to -- (Oregon's oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a sustainable future through local efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle).

Concerning the dime-deposit bottles and cans Davis says, "If possible, it is best to use the 'Bottle Drop Program' to recycle or donate your deposit bottles and cans, rather than to place them in mixed recycling. These materials are highly recyclable, and this allows them to be processed as one 'like group' of material."  

Some people in the audience at the Woodstock presentation said they prefer to leave deposit containers beside their blue bins for anyone who salvages the dime deposits.

If you are still in doubt, find out more about what can be recycled at the curb online –

Recycle electrical devices with a cord at: Free Geek, Best Buy, or Goodwill.

The motto from the "Portland Curbsider" is: WHEN IN DOUBT, LEAVE IT OUT. That is – put it in the garbage! But calling for information is encouraged.

You can also ask questions about recycling at the Metro Recycling Hotline – 503/234-3000.

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