Recycling Rules

(KPTV image)

BEAVERTON, OR (KPTV) - Oregon may have a great reputation for recycling, but that doesn’t mean everyone is doing it right.

Numbers show an average of 25 percent of recycling in the United States is garbage, according to the National Waste & Recycling Association.

In the Portland metro, about 9 percent of what’s in a homeowner’s recycling bin is usually trash, according to Metro.

The FOX 12 investigators, along with some recycling experts, decided to visit a Beaverton neighborhood to ask homeowners if they could take a look inside their blue bins.

The first homeowner passed with flying colors.

“We don’t see anything in there that looks like it shouldn’t be,” said Kristin Leichner, President of Pride Disposal.

The homeowner also took the opportunity to ask questions.

“You know, the milk things,” said the homeowner, Sue. “I’m always confused about so this is okay?”

“You take the lid off which you’ve done,” replied Leichner. “But the plastic part, the lid screws onto stays on.”

However, Sue is a recycling golden child some would say.

As the experts kept going, they soon found recycling violators.

“The main thing, yep, the to-go cup,” said Leichner.

“These are garbage,” added Alex Bertolucci, Recycling Specialist with Washington County. “Although they have plastic and it has the little symbol on them, these would go in the trash, and they need to be washed out if it was recyclable.”

The experts also found a paper towel and some recycling film in the same bin.

“Both of those would be garbage as well,” said Bertolucci. “Although it’s paper, it’s not recyclable.”

As the experts moved on, even more violators.

“We have a few contaminants,” said Bertolucci.

“It is a plastic bottle, which is allowed, but plastic bottles that have held things like anti-freeze or pesticides or hazardous materials, can’t be recycled, because of what used to be contained inside of them,” continued Leichner. “So this would need to go in the garbage as well.”

The experts said small medicine bottles also can’t be recycled.

“Because it’s six ounces or less, this would not be recyclable,” said Bertolucci.

They also found a plastic bag.

“These are problematic because when they go to the sorting facility, they get wrapped around the machines, which makes it so you’re not able to sort out some of the other materials that would need to be recycled," said said Bertolucci.

Other issues the experts found, recyclable bottles with too much liquid left in it.

"That’s something we would look to see emptied out before it goes in here, but this can be recycled,” said Leichner. “And generally what we try and tell people is when in doubt, find out.”

One thing the experts were surprised they didn’t see in any bins is what they call clam shell containers. Fruit usually comes in it or some to-go food. They said this is one of the number one items they usually find in recycling that is not recyclable.

Anyone who would like more information on what can and can’t be recycled, visit

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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