Recycling Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to Many of Your Questions about How to Use Your Recycling Cart

Scroll down or use these quick links to get answers to your questions about how you can use your cart to recycle more and sort less, and what to do with other recyclable materials.

Q: What can I recycle in my cart?
A:
A lot of things! Here’s what goes into your recycling cart:

  • Paper: newspapers; magazines and catalogs; mail and office paper; paper bags; rinsed milk and juice cartons; and cardboard, including cereal and shoe boxes.
  • Metal: clean metal cans and lids; clean foil pie plates and trays; empty aerosol cans; and other small metal items.
  • Plastics: clean plastic bottles; yogurt, margarine and other clean tubs; and 5-gallon or less nursery pots and buckets.

Q: What plastics CAN’T I put in my cart?
A:
In short, any plastic that is not a bottle, tub, jar or bucket. The following are examples of plastic materials that CANNOT be placed in your recycling cart: No Styrofoam™; no plastic take-out containers from restaurants; no grocery produce “clamshells” such as used for cherry tomato or berry containers; and no plastic bags. Plastic bags are especially hard on recycling systems, getting wrapped around the shafts of sorting equipment and jamming machinery. Lids from plastic containers aren’t recoverable through the sorting system and should not go in the cart, either.

Q: Where does glass go?
A: 
Use a separate container or bin for recycling your glass bottles and jars; attach a “glass only” label. Broken glass and paper shouldn't mix because shards and other pieces of broken glass can cause major problems at facilities where materials are sorted and at mills where paper is recycled. Simply place the glass bin next to the recycling cart for collection on your regularly scheduled collection day. You will only need to set it out  when it is full. Your efforts to keep glass separate will help maintain the quality of recyclables collected at the curb, providing high quality materials for end users and keeping them out of the landfill.

Q: Where can I recycle plastics that don’t go in the recycling cart?
A:
Many grocery stores accept clean plastic bags for recycling if you don’t have an opportunity to reuse them at home. Or better yet, consider using reusable bags for shopping to reduce the amount of plastic bags you receive. Check www.recyclinga-z.com on the Internet to find recycling options for plastics not accepted at the transfer stations. (See below for transfer station information.)

Q: Where do I put my batteries, antifreeze and motor oil for curbside recycling?
A:
Please put your used motor oil or antifreeze in a 1-gallon, clear plastic jug with a screw cap and place them next to your “glass only” bin early on the morning of recycling collection. If possible, clearly mark the jug as used oil or used antifreeze. To recycle household batteries -- AA, AAA, C, D, Lithium, Mercury, Ni-Cad – put batteries in a clear, re-sealable plastic bag and place them on the lid of your new recycling cart.

Q: When should I set out my recycling for collection?
A:
Following your every-other-week schedule, have your recycling cart and glass bin, along with any batteries, antifreeze or motor oil, at the curb by 6 a.m. on the collection day. After collections have taken place, please be a good neighbor by removing recycling and garbage carts from the curb and returning them to your own yard or garage as soon as it’s possible for you to do so.

Q: Why do I have to have space between my garbage cart and recycling cart?
A:
The trucks that service the carts, including yard debris carts for those who subscribe to this service, have automated arms that wrap around the sides of the carts. Your carts must be 3 feet apart from each other and 5 feet from cars and other objects or they will not be emptied. If the drivers attempt to empty the carts when they are too close, they can knock over the carts or potentially damage property near the carts.

Q: How does the driver know if there is recycling or garbage in the cart?
A: All of the recycling trucks have video cameras to monitor your recycling cart for garbage and glass. Also, when the materials are dropped off at the transfer station they will be able to visually inspect for items that are not accepted in the program. Your efforts to follow instructions on the poster that comes with your new recycling cart are greatly appreciated.

Q:  Where do I take material that you do not accept curbside?
A:
Visit the web pages at www.recyclinga-z.com for listings of where to take hundreds of other items such as Styrofoam™, sports equipment, hazardous waste, electronic devices and more. Many items may also be taken to the transfer stations. Check the information below, but be sure to call before you drive if you have any questions.

Transfer Station Information

  • West Van Materials Recovery Center: (360) 737-1727; Monday – Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 6601 N.W. Old Lower River Road, Vancouver, WA 98660
  • Central Transfer and Recycling Center: (360) 256-8482; Monday – Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 11034 N.E. 117th Ave., Vancouver, WA 98662
  • Washougal Transfer Station: (360) 835-2500; Wednesday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 4020 South Grant St., Washougal, WA 98671
     

Need More Information?

If you have other questions or need assistance from Vancouver Solid Waste Services, please contact us by e-mail at solidwaste@cityofvancouver.us or by phone at 360-619-4120.