Recycle like a Portlander

Recycling is a key part of living in Portland, but many people make a lot of mistakes with what’s recyclable and what belongs in the trash or compost bin. With landfills becoming alarmingly large, it’s important everyone do their part to slow that growth down.

Luckily, there are resources to help with that. The City of Portland website offers an overview of what is and is not recyclable. Here we have a quick guide, based on the website, of how to recycle like a true Portlander.

What to recycle

Paper: This includes junk mail like those coupons you get once a week, magazines, newspapers, milk cartons, other paper cartons, cardboard boxes, and any other paper materials.

Plastic: Bottles, tubs, buckets, and even plastic plant pots. But no hard plastics!

Metal: Cans, aluminum (including aluminum foil), empty and dry paint cans, and other miscellaneous metal bits.

How to properly recycle these items

Most campus buildings have guides about recycling, the same guides you can find online, so it’s helpful to refer to those when getting rid of your materials. For handy use to sort your recyclables before then, we have some of the major rules here and on the PSU website.

Some little-known facts might include that you must put shredded paper in a paper bag, or that small metal bits should be clamped inside other metals, or even that you can’t recycle rigid plastics like drink lids or tupperware. That’s one that really gets some people. Remove the lids from your soda bottles—they can’t go in the recycling!

Speaking of things that can’t be recycled, your Starbucks cups don’t go there either because the recycling bins on campus say so.
The Portland State website has a page called PSU Recycles which outlines all of this in a little more detail. The page says that all glass is recycled separately. Glass jars and bottles are recycled, while other glasses, like light bulbs and drinking glasses, are not. Also, the page says that while metal cans are recyclable, the lids aren’t, much like plastic bottles. Separate all of the lids.
When it comes to paper, any food-soiled boxes/paper, like napkins and pizza boxes, are not recyclable because they’re contaminated and will affect the rest of the bin. Pizza boxes, napkins, paper towels, and other food-soiled boxes and paper can be composted, but takeout containers and coffee cups are still off the table.

A few more interesting items that can be recycled are batteries and motor oil. If you need to get rid of those, you can request a bin for batteries and you can leave clear containers of motor oil by the recycle bins.

When you aren’t sure what to do with your recyclables, to find a full list of what can and can’t be recycled, or to find out how to recycle special items, refer to the City of Portland website or PSU Recycles.