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COURTESY OF METRO - The Rebuilding Center, as this sign at Metro Central points out, is a place to bring reusable fixtures and other items during remodeling or demolition projects. Jason Edge sees a lot of junk: Couches, mattresses, TVs, flooring, kitchen items and more.


“We have a throwaway culture,” says Edge, aka the Junk King. “You don’t buy a $5,000 couch, like my grandmother, anymore. You buy a $250 or $500 couch that gets thrown away because you can’t reupholster it.”

In the springtime, most junk removal comes from people moving, or the surge in spring cleaning.

After the new year, it’s out with the old and in with the new. People load up on new refrigerators, electronics, bicycles, tablets and appliances that came in the form of gifts, upgrades and impulse buys.

So where does all of that old stuff go?

Hopefully not the landfill.

"The most friendly thing you can do is reduce your waste, not replace things every year on a whim," says Patrick Morgan, a recycling information specialist with Metro, which manages the region's garbage and recycling services.

"Waste reduction is definitely our No. 1 goal. If people could think about what they're purchasing at the time they purchase it and not just recycling it after they're done with it, that would be a huge benefit."

COURTESY OF METRO - Sort-line workers pick through trash at Metro Central, in the Northwest Portland industrial area. Morgan is part of Metro's recycling hotline team, which fields calls from the public six days a week about how to safely, responsibly and legally get rid of their unwanted stuff — everything from holiday packaging to mysterious plastics to batteries, computers, furniture and other items. (See sidebar.)

People can either do this all themselves, or pay a company like Portland Junk Removal to do it.

Edge opened his chapter of the national Junk King franchise in September 2015 to serve the Portland area, with a commitment to diverting as much as he can from the landfill — the goal being at least 60 percent of what he hauls away from homes.

The difference between his and other companies, Edge says, is his 2,500-square-foot warehouse in Tigard, which enables him to store items that he hauls until he finds a spot to donate or otherwise dispose of them.

Other companies tend to haul their loads directly to the Metro Transfer Center, where it’s mostly destined for the landfill.

COURTESY PHOTO  - Jason Edge, aka The Junk King, prefers to find new homes for the stuff he hauls away from peoples homes and businesses. At Edge's Tigard warehouse, items with metal are stripped off and sent to the scrap yard. Bags and boxes are unpacked, with resellable or donatable items like silverware, plates and clothes separated and stored on shelves until he has enough to take to a facility or organization that accepts bulk items.

Besides the fact that it costs money to toss things in the landfill, it's just the right thing to do to divert it instead, Edge says.

"We see boxes that say 'Goodwill'; they never got to Goodwill," he says. "We pick up a lot of things people try to give away on Craigslist. People a lot of times have good intentions; they're just not able to do that."

@jenmomanderson

Where does it all go?

Here's where to take five common household goods:

• Batteries — The best bet is to use rechargables.

If you don't, take old batteries to a hazardous waste facility or a battery collection event. Nickel cadmium (nicad), mercury-oxide and silver-oxide button batteries release toxic heavy metals that pollute the air and water.

Regular AA, AAA, C or D batteries can now be tossed in the garbage, since they are no longer manufactured with mercury.

• TVs, computers and smartphones — Since the launch of Oregon E-Cycles by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, it's, been illegal to throw a TV, computer tower or monitor into the garbage in Oregon. A number of free recycling options are now available throughout the state, most of which also accept smartphones and tablets.

lastic-coated cups are not recyclable anywhere. They are garbage.

Styrofoam is not recyclable at every Far West Recycling center. Only a couple of them.

• Plastic and styrofoam — Plastic containers 6 ounces or larger can go in the recycle bin. Lids, clamshell packaging and plastic bags are best taken to stores or facilities like New Seasons or Far West Fibers, which has facilities throughout the metro area. Plastic-coated cups are not recyclable and have to go in the garbage. Styrofoam can be taken to a couple of Far West Fiber locations; see the Find a Recycler website below for details.

• Christmas lights — String lights can be recycled for the copper inside them. Many recycling centers, including Metro’s, will take them free of charge. Remove large bulbs. Small ones can stay on.

For more, call Metro Recycling hotline at 503-234-3000 or use Metro's Find a Recycler search directory at oregonmetro.gov/recycling.

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