Recycling plastics and styrofoam

Asked December 30, 2019, 3:41 PM EST

Republic Service’s info about what can and can’t be recycled is next to worthless. Do you have up to date info as to what plastics can be recycled, as well as information about how to recycle plastic bags and styrofoam here in Benton Co.?

Benton County Oregon

5 Responses

Well, the landscape for all recycling has certainly changed in the last 2 years, so we have to be patient as we learn a new routine. The employees of Republic Services are the final authority, but this is my understanding:
  1. Plastic film recycling - there's a barrel at most big grocery stores. the kind of plastic film that crinkles when you wad it up must be put in the trash. I'm thinking of the kind of plastic that flower bouquets are wrapped in at the grocery. Film for recycling must be empty, clean and dry.
  2. Other plastics - only plastics that are formed into jugs or bottles. That is to say, containers that are narrower at the top, the mouth of the container, than they are at the bottom. Things like milk jugs or laundry soap jugs can be recycled. Yogurt, cottage cheese or spreadable butter tubs cannot be. Nor can the clear kinds of plastics that stores like Costco pack apples into. all plastic containers must be empty, clean and dry.
  3. First Alternative Coop recycles Styrofoam at the south Corvallis store, for a fee.
  4. Cardboard and office paper are still recyclable.
Recyclables are commodities sold on global markets. It's only profitable to collect materials for recyclable when 1. there is a market for them and 2. the cost of collecting and shipping them to the market is less than what the market will pay.

In the West, trash and recycling services are handled by for-profit corporations. In many jurisdictions further east, the people who handle trash and recyclables are public employees. It costs us to dispose of things, whether we pay for a service or pay more taxes. I hope this helps a little bit.

Does “plastic film” include plastic bags and plastic bag-like packaging? That’s what we’re most concerned about. We rarely have any plastic film from, say, a florist... The Safeway on Philomath Blvd no longer takes this stuff.

Yes, “plastic film” includes plastic bags and plastic bag-like packaging. Since I live in Corvallis, I know those resources best. Winco and Fred Meyer in Corvallis each accept plastic film.

Thanks so much! We made a run to Wilco with a huge sack of plastic bags and felt very virtuous.

The reason why I mentioned the poor info from Republic Service is because our neighbor called and was told that all plastic containers can be put in our recycling bins, along with styrofoam and glass — clearly incorrect. There is no one-stop source online or otherwise that has accurate info about the local recycling arrangements, so I am really grateful for your help.

Here's the situation with Republic Services:
  1. They're a national company, and within the last 18 mos or so, the corporation has gone from a local-support model to three regional call centers that provide support. Our call center is in Phoenix.
  2. Benton County is unique in the nation with Republic in the level of personal customization the company offers us. This includes every-other-week and on-call pickup, as well as multiple sizes of trash cans. In many locales served by Republic, there is a one-size-fits-all service for trash and recycling.
  3. These call centers were largely staffed by new helpers; it has proven nearly impossible to train a sub-team who would know the unique services offered to us here in Benton Co. Call center work can be boring and stressful, as well as low-paid. I don't know what the case in Phoenix is, but I could imagine that there is high turnover. Hence, new people and wrong information.
I'm glad you were able to find recycling for plastic film. I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I was out of the office.