The recycling symbol with the number inside is the way the plastics industry identifies what type of plastic an item is made out of. They tell us about its past, not its future. Here in Deschutes County we do NOT recycle by number. We DO recycle plastic bottles, tubs, and jugs. Use the numbers on the bottom to see if the plastic is safe for reuse.
Lids are small and flat and can end up in places they shouldn’t be, such as in the folds of cardboard or newspaper, contaminating those materials when they are sorted and sent off to be recycled at a paper mill. Bottle caps and other small plastics can get caught in the gears of the conveyor belts that are used to sort out our commingled recycling. That’s why we only recycle containers 6 oz and larger. (Think single size yogurt cup).
Check out this video with Denise to learn more about which caps and lids you can recycle in your curbside bin:
There are over 100 different types of resins used to make plastics, not all of which can be easily sorted or recycled. Here in Deschutes County, the plastics that are accepted in curbside carts include bottles, tubs, and jugs. Other plastics, such as bags, shrink wrap and clamshell take out containers, contaminate the materials, and are not permitted recyclables.
Some plastics are better quality than others — that means some are a desirable commodity and easier to recycle, while some (like plastic clamshells) are not. Undesirable and difficult to recycle plastics are not accepted in the curbside carts.
Try to reuse these plastics that cannot be recycled, or try to avoid them in the first place when you are shopping.
Glass breaks easily, is difficult to sort and can harm workers, damage equipment and cause problems in the recycling. Glass is kept separate in most Oregon communities. Never put glass in your commingled recycling.
Plastic bags, much like plastic lids, can contaminate other
materials in the recycling process. It gets stuck between cardboard or stacks of paper, or it gets caught on the gears of recycling sorting machinery, causing the system to fail.
Supermarkets, however, are able to keep those materials bundled together by collecting just plastic bags and film. They also have transportation infrastructure already in place. To avoid transporting empty containers, many supermarkets will recycle cardboard, plastic bags, wood pallets, and sometimes even food just so they don’t have to drive empty trucks back to the distributor.
No, plastic cups are not recyclable in Deschutes County.
However, many local event organizers now use compostable cups that can be commercially composted in specific conditions. You cannot compost these in your back yard, but some event spaces are set up to collect them. Before putting them in the bin make sure you know:
Are you certain compostables are accepted?
Is it really a compostable cup and not a regular plastic cup?
**These look just like plastic cups, so look on the bottom of the cup to see if it reads “COMPOSTABLE”
Paper cups, along with milk and juice cartons, ice cream tubs, and any other paper designed to hold liquid are lined with something — usually plastic. It is difficult to separate the plastic from the paper. Although some communities do collect hydrophobic paper like this, it is not collected in Deschutes County because it is not a high-valued commodity. Best bet — bring your own coffee cup!