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Recycling – what goes in the bin

Information
Paper, plastic, and metal go in your blue recycling bin. Glass should always be collected in a separate glass-only bin. Whether you’re at home, work, or school, the materials you can recycle in Portland are the same.
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All items should be empty and dry before going into your recycling bin. Items should be placed loose in the bin; do not bag them.


Paper

Photos of a Cheerios cereal box, an empty cardboard box that held disposable gloves, a flattened cardboard shipping box, a cardboard egg carton, a cardboard paper towel tube, a pile of paper envelopes, a magazine and a catalogue, an half-pint carton of half-and-half, a box of shelf-stable rice milk.

Allowed paper items

  • Cardboard boxes, cereal boxes, cardboard egg cartons.
  • Newspapers, magazines, catalogs, phone books, and junk mail.
  • Cartons (milk, juice, soup; empty and dry).
  • Shredded paper must be sealed in a paper bag, do not put in your bin loose. (Businesses with larger quantities: Ask your garbage company.)

Have extra cardboard? Fit as much into your bin as possible by flattening and cutting into smaller pieces. When your bin is full, flatten extra cardboard, tape together in one bundle, and lean next to your blue recycling bin. Bundles should be no larger than 3 feet in any direction.

What’s NOT allowed

A red X is shown next to photos of crumpled paper towels and napkins, a brown paper take-out container, a paper coffee cup, a plastic lined mailing envelope, an ice-cream pint container, and a frozen food box.
  • NO coffee cups, take-out food containers, paper plates, pizza boxes.
  • NO frozen or refrigerated food boxes.
  • NO wax-coated cardboard or paper coated with food, wax, foil or plastic.
  • NO paper towels, napkins, facial tissue.

Plastic

Photos of a plastic Tide detergent jug, a milk jug, a shampoo bottle, a plastic round sour cream tub. A plastic Dr. Pepper soda bottle, plastic gatorade bottle, and plastic sparkling water bottle are shown with a 10-cent deposit image above them.

When sorting your plastics, ignore the recycle symbol and number: Plastics recycling in Portland is based on the size and shape of the item. Please rinse containers. They do not need to be perfectly clean, but should be free of food residue and dry before they go in your bin.

Allowed plastic items

  • Plastic bottles* and jars (6 ounces or larger).
  • Plastic jugs (milk, juice, etc.).
  • Round plastic food containers (6 ounces or larger) buckets (5 gallons or smaller).
  • Plant pots (4-inch diameter or larger).

*Deposit plastic bottles can be recycled in your bin or, to collect deposit funds, take them to a BottleDrop Center or participating grocery store.

What’s NOT allowed

A red X next to photos of a plastic bag, a clear plastic take-out food container, a blue plastic glove, a clear plastic drink cup with "compostable" written on it, a blue plastic drink cup, plastic utensils, a plastic cup lid and plastic straw, plastic lids from yogurt containers and detergent containers.

Any plastic that is not shaped like a bottle, round tub, bucket, or jug is not allowed in Portland's recycling. This means:

  • NO plastic bags or plastic film of any type: pallet wrap, bubble wrap, stretch wrap.
  • NO plastic caps and lids.
  • NO plastic 6 pack can holders (all types, including rigid plastic)
  • NO plastic take-out food containers and disposable plates, cups and cutlery.
  • NO prescription medicine bottles and other plastic containers under 6 oz.
  • NO disposable plastic or latex gloves. 
  • NO bottles that have come in contact with motor oil, pesticides or herbicides, or other hazardous materials.
  • NO hoses, ropes, or cords

Metal

Photos of a tuna fish can, a coconut milk can, a PAM spray can, an empty paint can, and a ball of tin foil. A can of sparkling water and a can of soda are shown with a 10-cent deposit image above them.

Allowed metal items

  • Aluminum, tin, and steel food cans.
  • Beverage cans.*
  • Empty aerosol cans.
  • Empty and dry metal paint cans.
  • Aluminum foil (clean and dry).
  • Scrap metal (smaller than 30 inches and less than 30 pounds).
  • To recycle small metal pieces (under 2 inches), like metal lids, screws and nails, collect inside a soup can, crimp tightly closed, then put into mixed recycling.

*Deposit cans and bottles can be recycled in your bin or, to collect deposit funds, take them to a BottleDrop Center or participating grocery store.

What’s NOT allowed

  • Wire, chains, or electric cords
  • Wire hangers (unless tightly tied together in a bundle)
  • Aerosol cans that still contain liquids (if toxic, like chemicals or paint, these must be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility. Not sure if it’s toxic? Call 503-234-3000.)

Glass

Yellow plastic glass recycling bin next to photos of a glass spaghetti sauce jar, a glass spice jar, and a glass guacamole jar. A brown glass rootbeer bottle, a clear glass diet Snapple bottle, and a green glass apple cider bottle are shown with a 10-cent deposit image above them.

Glass should always be collected separately from other recycling. If glass ends up with other recyclables, it can cause harm to the staff and machinery at local recycling facilities.

Allowed glass items

  • All glass food and beverage bottles* and jars.
  • All colors of glass (it's OK to leave labels on).

*Deposit glass bottles can be recycled in your glass-only bin or, to collect deposit funds, take them to a BottleDrop Center or participating grocery store.

What’s NOT allowed

A red X is shown next to photos of a ceramic coffee mug, a broken ceramic plate, a clear wine glass, a clear flower vase, a light bulb, a broken green bottle.
  • NO drinking glasses, dishware or drinkware of any kind.
  • NO ceramics or flower vases.
  • NO light bulbs.
  • NO window glass or mirrors.
  • NO lids, bottle caps, or corks.

Motor Oil

A clear milk jug filled with a dark liquid (motor oil) and a blue lid sits next to a yellow glass recycling bin.

Houses and smallplexes: Put motor oil in a leakproof, clear plastic jug (1 gallon max) with a tightly-closed lid. Place on curb next to waste bins.

Apartments and businesses: Call 503-234-3000 or look up drop-off or pick-up recycling options.


Not sure if something is recyclable?

Look it up or call 503-234-3000: They’ll tell you if it goes in your garbage or recycling bin, or where you can drop it off for recycling, donation, or safe disposal.

Or view more items at RecycleOrNot.org or @recycleornot on Instagram. (Visite ReciclarONo.org o @reciclarono en Instagram.)


Printable guides

Print a residential recycling guide

Print a business recycling guide

News and notices

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