Recycling Markets

Recycling Markets Update

Large pile of paper products to be recycled.For many years, Beaverton residents have been committed to reducing, reusing and recycling. Materials collected for recycling in Beaverton are sorted, sold in international markets, and used as inputs to make “new” products. In recent weeks, however, there have been changes in global recycling markets that are impacting recycling collection in the USA and around the world. While you may find that certain materials are no longer accepted at your local recycling depot or grocery store drop off, there are no changes to your curbside recycling service.

China has historically received most of our recycling. They require the materials to use as a feedstock for the goods they manufacture and export. Due to a variety of reasons, China has placed restrictions on the types of materials they will import which is impacting our recycling markets. Recycling markets are also impacted by the low price of oil (making it cheaper to produce virgin plastic) and the reduced demand for recycled content paper (due to newspapers and magazines shrinking in size).  

All of these factors together have created a disruption within the recycling system of Oregon and beyond. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is closely monitoring the situation in partnership with local governments, haulers and processors.

Items that are on the approved curbside list have had historically strong markets. We realize there are several types of plastic packaging that look like they should be recyclable. We get it. It can be confusing. As a region, we work closely with our recycling processors to understand what materials can be properly sorted and sold. These are the items that end up on the approved curbside list. Disruptions like these are an excellent reminder of why it is so important to only include approved materials in your recycling container.

What can you do?

  • Recycle it right! Make sure the items you separate for recycling are on our approved list.
    • “When in doubt, find out or throw it out” is a good phrase to remember.
    • Do not risk contaminating your curbside recycling – do not include plastic to-go containers (clamshells), cold or hot drink cups, plastic utensils/lids, or plastic bags.
  • Check the website of your preferred depot before you go there.
  • Try to reduce or avoid excessive packaging or other disposable materials when you are deciding which products to buy. Bring your own grocery and produce bags, buy in bulk, etc.
  • Buy recycled content whenever possible.
  • Get your $0.10 Oregon deposit back. Collect your Oregon deposit containers separately from your mixed recycling then take them back to a local grocery store or Bottle Redemption Center. All deposit containers collected through our deposit program are processed in Oregon at a plant in St. Helens.

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