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Recycling – what goes in the bin

Whether you’re at home, work, or school, the materials you can recycle are the same. Mixed paper, plastic bottles and tubs, and metal containers and foil, are all allowed in the recycling bins together. Glass bottles and jars go in a separate “glass-only” labeled container.
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All items should be empty and dry before going into your recycling bin. Remove plastic caps and lids (these go in the garbage).


Blue recycling roll cart shown next to cereal box, Kleenex box, Girl Scout cookie box, laundry drier sheet box, small carton of cream, soy milk carton, soup carton, cardboard egg container, cardboard paper towel roll, flattened cardboard shipping box, IKEA paper catalogue, magazine, paper grocery store bag.


Cardboard boxes, newspapers, magazines, catalogs, phone books, scrap paper, junk mail, cartons (milk, juice, soup; empty and dry). Shredded paper is allowed if contained in a paper bag (businesses, ask your garbage company).

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.


Coffee cups, take-out food containers, paper plates, paper towels, napkins, facial tissue, wax-coated cardboard, pizza boxes, frozen food boxes, label backing sheets; or paper coated with food, wax, foil or plastic.


When sorting your plastics, ignore the recycle symbol and number: Plastics recycling in Portland is based on the size and shape of the item.

Blue recycling roll cart shown with plastic recyclables, all without lids: 6oz yogurt container and large yogurt container, round 5 gallon bucket, 5 gallon cat litter contain with handle, round plant pot, round margarine container, peanut butter jar, milk jug, dishwashing soap container, liquid clothes detergent jug, shampoo bottle. Plastic redeemable bottles: gatorade, water, Dr. Pepper, seltzer.


Plastic bottles and jars (6 ounces or larger), jugs (milk, juice, etc.), round food containers (6 ounces or larger), and buckets (5 gallons or smaller), and plant pots (4-inch diameter or larger).

Please rinse containers. They do not need to be perfectly clean, but should be free of food residue and dry.

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


Any plastic that is not shaped like a bottle, tub, bucket, or jug. This includes:

  • Plastic bags. Plastic film of any type: pallet wrap, bubble wrap, stretch wrap.
  • Plastic caps and lids.
  • Plastic 6 pack can holders (all types, including rigid plastic)
  • Plastic take-out food containers and disposable plates, cups and cutlery.
  • Prescription medicine bottles and other plastic containers under 6 oz.
  • Disposable plastic or latex gloves. 
  • Bottles that have come in contact with motor oil, pesticides or herbicides.


Blue recycling roll cart shown with metal recyclables: empty paint can without lid, PAM spray can without lid; shaving cream spray can without lid, soup can, tuna can, and tomato can without lids; tin foil crunched into ball, clean tin pie pan. Redeemable metal cans including soda cans, coconut water can, and iced tea can.


Aluminum, tin and steel food cans, empty dry metal paint cans, empty aerosol cans, aluminum foil, 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.

*10-cent 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.


Aerosol cans that still contain liquids should be emptied (if non-toxic, like cooking spray) or disposed of at a hazardous waste facility (if toxic, like chemicals or paint). Not sure if it’s toxic? Call 503-234-3000.


Glass should always be collected separately from other recycling. Never put glass in your mixed recycling container. If glass ends up with other recyclables, it can cause harm to the staff and machinery at local recycling facilities.

Yellow rectangular bin with “Portland Recycles” and recycling symbol on side, shown with glass recyclables (none have lids): clear glass pickle jar, salad dressing bottle, spice jar, and olive jar; green wine and champagne bottles. Redeemable bottles: clear soda and iced tea bottles, and brown beer and kombucha bottles.


All colors of glass (labels are OK too).

* Redeemable glass beverage bottles with a 10-cent deposit can either be recycled in your regular glass recycling bin or, if you wish to collect your deposit funds, you can take them to some grocery stores or any BottleDrop Center.


Drinking glasses, flower vases, ceramics, dishware or drinkware of any kind, light bulbs.*

* Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) must be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility or other approved drop-off (call 503-234-3000 to find the nearest location to you).

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.

Printable guides

Print a residential recycling guide

Print a business recycling guide

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