Portland-area stores: Effective October 1, 2017, we will no longer be able to accept Plastic Bags/Film or Clamshells/Lids for recycling because of new marketplace restrictions on most plastic recyclables.
While we have historically accepted plastics from our customers that were not allowed in curbside collection bins, this service will no longer be available. Until now, these types of plastics were marketed and sold to China, but due to stricter standards that have been implemented, they have stopped accepting the material.
You may be surprised to learn that your plastic recyclables were going to China, but they have in fact been one of the top exports to China from America since 2007. China had been exporting various consumer goods to the U.S. and the shipping containers were going back empty. So U.S. companies started to send waste paper, recycled cardboard boxes, and plastic scrap in the return-trip containers. It was a win-win situation for both the U.S. and China and it became an indispensable part of municipal recycling programs in U.S. For a time this arrangement worked well for both counties, but China has now determined that much of material coming from the U.S. is too contaminated to be recycled effectively.
In the long run, we feel a national or regional recycling option would be much more sustainable. As a company committed to the triple-bottom-line, we are investigating partnership opportunities to ensure our waste is diverted as much as possible and will share any changes with our customers as they are available.
We are also focused on reassessing the plastic waste generated by our own products, and will we be convening a group of subject matter experts and stakeholders to think long-term about how our packaging can be more sustainable. Currently we follow Sustainable Packaging Best Practice guidelines which focus on lessening the environmental impact of packaging through source reduction, transportation and recyclability.
The changes Plastic Bags/Film and Clamshells/Lids will not affect what you can recycle curbside in your home recycling container (since contamination affects recyclability, always rinse thoroughly):
• Plastic bottles, jugs and jars 6 ounces or larger, any container with a threaded neck (for a screw-on lid) or neck narrower than the base. This includes milk jugs, peanut butter jars, and bottles that held personal care and cleaning products (shampoo, laundry soap, etc.).
• Plastic tubs 6 ounces or larger, usually round with a wider rim than base and contain products such as salsa, margarine, cottage cheese, hummus, etc.
• Planting/nursery pots larger than 4 inches in diameter and made of rigid (rather than crinkly or flexible) plastic. Remove any loose dirt.
• Buckets 5 gallons or smaller. Handles are OK.
To limit plastics going to the landfill, consider using reusable options for your shopping whenever possible. Here are some tips courtesy of a recent Metro News story.
Can you skip the plastic?
Plastic is one of life’s short cuts. And recycling it is great–when you can. But, says Metro recycling expert Patrick Morgan, there are some easy ways to cut the amount of plastic you end up having to toss.
Bring your own shopping bags. You’ll get a 5 cent bag refund to keep or donate to a neighborhood nonprofit.
Avoid or reuse produce bags and containers
A quick rinse of the bags that held your lettuce or broccoli can double the bag's life. Once they’re dry, keep them with your reusable grocery bag in a place where they’ll get used – like your car or bike bag. You can also double up items in bags, or use cloth or mesh bags. Reuse plastic containers when purchasing bulk items. Just ask a cashier to record the weight one of our registers before you shop.
Pass on the package
Delicate cherry tomatoes transport well in containers, but consider buying slicers instead. The same goes for bagged fruit and veggies.
Skip the guilt
When it comes to plastic, consumer choices are limited. And that’s frustrating. But reusing your produce bags, making an occasional lunch, or keeping your reusable drink container close at hand can reduce the everyday use – and disposal of – plastic. It’s a start.
Want to help develop a local waste economy and a better future for garbage and waste management? METRO is working on a 2030 waste plan right now. Take the survey and share what matters to you most.
Check out the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality DEQ statement on emerging recycling changes here.