Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program is coordinated by Clark County Public Health’s Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt.

Clark County makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided on this website. However, due to the possibility of transmission errors, HTML browser capabilities, changes made since the last update to the site, etc., neither Clark County, nor any agency, officer, or employee of Clark County warrants the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information published by this system, nor endorses any content, viewpoints, products, or services linked from this system, and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of such information. Portions of such information may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at their own risk.

In offering information on the web, Clark County seeks to balance our requirement for public access with the privacy needs of individual citizens. Information that appears on the Clark County website is part of the public record. By law, it is available for public access, whether by telephone request, visiting county offices, or through other means.

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Contact Details

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(360) 397-2121 x4352

Ready to learn more about Recycling? Confused about what to put in your recycling bin? We have you covered! 

What NOT to Recycle

The Recycling Process

Recycling Videos

Recycling A–Z


How does recycling work?

After you place materials in a recycling bin, either at a business or at home, recycling trucks come and pick up the materials. Mixed recycling is compressed in the truck, and glass and other special materials are kept separate.

The recycling trucks dump each material in specific areas at the Material Recovery Facility (MRF). The mixed recycling is piled onto conveyor belts to be sorted.

On the conveyor belt

First is a belt of large spinning gears that sort out large pieces of cardboard while the rest of the material falls through to lines below based on the size of material. Workers pull off contaminants and specific recyclables. A magnet pulls out small metals and a back eddy sorts out the aluminum cans. Along the line, plastic bottles, plastic jugs, paper and cans are piled separately and compressed into bales. These bales are then shipped to local or international buyers who process the raw material into a substance that can be sold to manufacturers to make new products.

Recyclables are sorted by hand

Our system relies on the sharp eyes and fast hands of our sorters, so it is important to keep them safe by only recycling the accepted materials. If a material has a recycling symbol on it, it still may not be accepted in the curbside collection. We sort based on size and shape. Anything flat will be sorted into paper or cardboard so please keep out small scraps of plastic and metal, like lids and caps, unless they are securely fastened to the bottle. There may be other recycling options beyond the curb for certain materials, but these are separate from the curbside system.

You have an important role in keeping our recycled material high quality by recycling right and eliminating contaminants.

Recycling Videos

  • Holiday Waste Reduction
  • Recyclers Only

Problem Materials (do not recycle)

  • 1. Paper coffee cups
    1. Paper coffee cups

    Soiled paper contaminated by food and liquids should not be recycled. Additionally, paper coffee cups often have a plastic or wax lining making them non-recyclable and non-compostable. You can reduce this waste by using a reusable coffee cup!

  • 2. Freezer boxes
    2. Freezer boxes

    Any type of cardboard packaging that goes in the freezer or fridge is wet-strength packaging that has a chemical composition to make it more durable and preserve food, but it is not recyclable. Most common are microwave/frozen dinner boxes, butter stick boxes, soda boxes, etc.

  • 3. Plastic drink cups
    3. Plastic drink cups

    Plastic drink cups are weak and become smashed when collecting recyclables, making them difficult to separate from paper. Additionally, plastic cups are a common litter along the road which pollutes the environment. You can reduce this waste by using reusable cups and straws!

  • 4. Plastic lids
    4. Plastic lids

    Whether plastic or metal, they may end up being sorted into paper bales because they are small and flat. Place metal lids in the can and crimp the lid so that it doesn’t fall out. Screw plastic bottle caps on securely. Discard snap on lids in the trash.

  • 5. Plastic clamshell
    5. Plastic clamshell

    Plastic clamshells are very common in grocery stores and as take out containers. They often have a hinged lid and are composed of a brittle, clear plastic that shatters into pieces during the sorting process. This material is a challenge to recycle and is not currently accepted by any known local recyclers. Consider buying products in packaging that you know is recyclable to reduce waste.

    Learn more

  • 6. Plastic film/bag
    6. Plastic film/bag

    Plastic bags and other thin, stretchy plastic films and wraps get tangled in recycling equipment and cause the sort line to shut down while it is cut out by hand and thrown in the garbage. However, there are recycling options for this material at your local Safeway, Albertson, Fred Meyer and other grocery stores participating in the WRAP program.

    Read more

  • 7. Block foam
    7. Block foam

    Block foam, also known as Styrofoam, is not recyclable curbside. This includes block foam cups, food trays and bulky packing material. Packing peanuts can be reused for packing and mailing and may be accepted by local post offices. Large, ridgid block foam can be dropped off at Central Transfer & Recycling Center (11034 NE 117th Ave, Vancouver, WA). Agilyx in Tigard, Oregon accepts any #6 polystyrene material in their drop off bins but these materials should never go in your curbside recycling in Clark County.

  • 8. Pizza boxes
    8. Pizza boxes

    Any paper or cardboard that is soiled with food or grease is not recyclable. Consider composting these materials.

  • 9. Food

    Keeping the mixed recycling dry and clean is important for the quality of the recycling. Make sure that you empty your containers of food before recycling. Consider composting food scraps or food soiled paper at home.

  • 10. Textiles/clothing
    10. Textiles/clothing

    Clothes are a good resource that can be reused or repurposed. Donate these items to charities or thrift stores if they are in good condition or get crafty and create something out of old fabric scraps. Textiles and clothing should never go in your recycling cart.

  • 11. Tangly items
    11. Tangly items

    Items such as hoses, wire hangers, ribbons, and other long, stringy materials can get caught in the sorting equipment and cause the line to shut down while the waste materials are removed by hand.

  • 12. Shredded paper
    12. Shredded paper

    Shredded paper is too small and is lost during the sorting. Best practice is to drop shredded paper off directly at the transfer station or use a paper shredding company (companies may have fees).

  • 13. Diapers
    13. Diapers

    It may seem obvious that diapers, especially dirty diapers, should not go in the recycling bin, but we still see them coming down the sort line. Please keep all human and pet wastes and non-recyclables out of the recycling cart. It is especially unsanitary for our workers who sort on the line by hand.

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