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Public Works > Recycling > FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Waste Reduction
  2. Garbage Collection & Disposal
  3. Recycling Collection & Disposal
  4. Household Hazardous Waste

Waste Reduction

  1. Is it important to "Buy Recycled"?
  2. What is post-consumer recycled content?
  3. What is pre-cycling?
  4. Where can people sell their recyclables?
  5. How can I get rid of furniture, sporting goods, household items or other miscellaneous items?

Garbage Collection & Disposal

  1. Where are the transfer stations?
  2. What are the phone numbers?
  3. What are the current rates for disposal at the transfer stations?
  4. Who do I call for garbage/recycling service?
  5. How can people reduce their garbage service in Clark County and how much can they save?
  6. How do I change my service levels?
  7. What are the current rates for recycling collection?
  8. Who should I call if my garbage or recycling in Clark County was not picked up?
  9. Will my garbage/recycling service schedule be affected by the holidays?
  10. Where can I dispose of large appliances or scrap metal?
  11. Where can I dispose of tires?
  12. Where can I dispose of block styrofoam?
  13. Is garbage mandatory in Clark County, the City of Vancouver and other cities in Clark County?
  14. Where can I recycle plastic grocery sacks and baggies and what happens to them?

Recycling Collection & Disposal

  1. What types of materials are recycled at curbside and how should they be prepared?
  2. What if I have more material than will fit in my bins? Will it cost more?
  3. What kinds of plastic can be recycled?
  4. Why can't I recycle everything with a recycle symbol on it?
  5. What happens to my recyclables after collection?
  6. Where can I dispose of styrofoam peanuts? Can they be recycled?
  7. Why is curbside recycling required if I have garbage service?

Household Hazardous Waste

  1. What are the dangers of improper disposal of household hazardous waste (HHW)?
  2. How do I know what products are hazardous?
  3. Are there alternatives to using hazardous products?
  4. Why is it important to keep household hazardous wastes out of landfills?
  5. How can I dispose of household hazardous waste properly/safely?
  6. How can I dispose of latex/oil base paint?
  7. How can I dispose of empty paint cans?
  8. How can I buy recycled paint?
  9. Where can I recycle computer components, TV's and other electronic devices?
  10. Where can I dispose of used motor oil or used antifreeze?
  11. Can you recycle empty motor oil bottles?
  12. Where can I purchase re-refined motor oil?
  13. How can I dispose of Sharps (used syringes - hypodermic needles, IV tubing with needles attached, scalpel blades and lancets) safely?
  14. How can I get rid of old outdated medications?

1. Is it important to "Buy Recycled"?

You are not really recycling until you buy back products that have recycled content in them. Picture the 3 recycling arrows: the top arrow = putting your bins out at the curb or sorting your trash, the bottom right arrow = the recycling truck picking up your recycling and bringing it to the processing station, the lower left arrow = buying that material back in the form of a new product. This third arrow is the critical step because it "CLOSES THE LOOP" or completes the cycling cycle.

2. What is post-consumer recycled content?

If you examine a recycled product label you may read 50% recycled with 20% post-consumer content. Post-consumer is the key. It means that you or I have actually used that material, it was collected, and made into the new product. Industries have been recycling scrap from their processing lines for years. Paper cuttings, the ends of runs, sawdust, all of this is reused and recycled by industry which makes good business sense. However, this material never made it into the waste stream in the first place and remember our goal is TO REDUCE.

3. What is pre-cycling?

Pre-cycling involves reducing waste at the source by pre-thinking our purchases. How long will this product last? Is it repairable? What will happen to it at the end of its life? Is the product free of unnecessary packaging - is it reusable, recyclable, compostable? These are questions we all need to be asking ourselves before purchasing items.

4. Where can people sell their recyclables?

There are several recycling centers in Clark County that offer buy-back opportunities. They are:

Air, Water, Earth Recycling
9701 NE 94th Avenue
(360) 254-5010
Pacific Coast Shredding
901 Port Way
(360) 737-8335
West Van Materials Recovery Center
6601 NW Old Lower River Road
(360) 737-1727

For other recycling opportunities see the 2006 Recycling Directory

5. How can I get rid of furniture, sporting goods, household items or other miscellaneous items?
You can try checking our ReyclingA-Z.com or going to the Clark County 2good2toss.com website.


1. Where are the transfer stations?

Central Transfer & Recycling Center
11034 NE 117th Avenue
Vancouver, WA 98662

West Van Material Recovery Center
6601 NW Old Lower River Road
Vancouver, WA 98660

Washougal Transfer Station
4020 S. Grant Street
Washougal, WA 98671

2. What are the phone numbers?

Central Transfer & Recycling Center
(360) 256-8482

West Van Material Recovery Center
(360) 737-1727

Washougal Transfer Station
(360) 835-2500

3. What are the current rates for disposal at the transfer stations?

There is a $10 transaction fee (per trip) for each vehicle. The transaction fee will be charged in addition to the following disposal rates:

Rate per ton = $80.96 Rate per cubic yard if applicable = $10.12

For further information on self-haul rates at the transfer station see Self-Haul Options.

4. Who do I call for garbage/recycling service?

Area Company Phone Number
Vancouver, Unincorporated Clark County, Yacolt,
Ridgefield, Battle Ground, La Center and Washougal
Waste Connections (360) 892-5370
City of Camas - Garbage City of Camas (360) 834-2462
City of Camas - Recycling Waste Connections (360) 892-5370
Woodland Vicinity (NW Clark County) - Recycling service available only in the city of Woodland Waste Control, Inc. (360) 225-7808

5. How can people reduce their garbage service in Clark County and how much can they save?

Level of Service How Often Cost per month Savings *
1 standard 32 gal can of garbage Weekly pickup $13.48 per month
1 min-can 20 gal can of garbage Weekly pickup $10.61 per month Saves $2.87
1 standard can of garbage Every other week pickup $9.16 per month Saves $4.32
1 mini-can of garbage Every other week pickup $8.01 per month Saves $5.39
1 standard can of garbage Once a month pickup $4.97 per month Saves $8.51

*Savings assumes that the standard service level is a 32 gallon standard garbage can collected weekly. If customers reduce the size of the can or the frequency of pickup they can save as much as $8.51 each month. NOTE: Monthly costs do not include the $4.15 charge for weekly recycling pickup.

6. How do I change my service levels?

Contact your local service provider listed above in question number three.

7. What are the current rates for recycling collection?

Recycling collection in the urban service collection area is $4.15 per month. Subscription service in the rural areas of the county is $5.50.

8. Who should I call if garbage or recycling was not picked up?

If your garbage or recycling was missed, please call your service provider's office (as shown in question 3 above) as soon as possible.

If the pickup was missed by the driver, they will return for pickup either the next day or the next collection day with no charge for extras. If the pickup was missed due to the customer not have the can out, there will be an extra charge to return for the pickup.

9. Will my garbage /recycling service schedule be affected by the holidays?

In Vancouver and most of Clark County, garbage, recycling and yard debris service are not collected on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. If one of these holidays falls on a weekday, collection will run one date late for the rest of the week.

10. Where can I dispose of large appliances or scrap metal?

Waste Connections offer special pickups of bulky items in their collection areas - call for charges and appointments. Some thrift stores also accent furniture and large appliances. Check the listings in the RecyclingA-Z.com for more information.

11. Where can I dispose of tires?

See Tires  for more information.

12. Where can I dispose of block styrofoam?

Visit Recycling A-Z to find recycling facilities currently accepting block foam.
Clark County accepts clean block foam at some of its annual collection events.  Please visit the Calendar page to find upcoming events where block foam will be collection.

13. Is garbage mandatory in the City of Vancouver, Clark County and other cities in the County?

Garbage is mandatory in the City of Vancouver,

14. Where can I recycle plastic grocery sacks and baggies and what happens to them?

Most local stores have bins for recycling plastic bags. These bins are lined with large plastic bags and these bags full of bags can be baled or compacted with the same equipment the stores use for their empty cardboard boxes and are worth at least as much per pound as the boxes, often to the companies that buy the cardboard. The bags may go to companies making plastic lumber or other products here in the U.S., or be exported to Asia for similar uses there.


1. What types of materials are recycled at curbside and how should they be prepared?

See the Recycling Instructions page for complete details.

2. What if I have more material than will fit in my bins? Will it cost more?

Residents can set out up to 250 pounds of recyclables at no additional charge if they are placed in a clearly marked container. For example, put extra paper in a paper bag. If this is a regular occurrence, residents are encouraged to designate a durable container, such as a 5-gallon bucket, for extra recyclables; call your service provider and they will send you a label for extra containers.

3. What kinds of plastics can be recycled?

Technically, all plastics can be recycled. All plastics ARE NOT recycled because there is no economically feasible or stable market for most of them. Clark County programs will take plastic bottles. Check the neck, only plastic bottles with necks smaller than the base will be recycled. Do not include other plastics, such as plastic bags, tub lids, plastic wrap or bottle lids. Please NO motor oil bottles or bottles that contained toxic. If they are empty, put the lid on the bottles and put them in the trash.

4. Why can't I recycle everything with a recycle symbol on it?

Because there is no real regulation on the use of the recycling symbol, nor on the similar triangles with resin code numbers inside that are found on many plastic products. Many labeled products and packages are recyclable but many are not. Many unlabeled products and packages are recyclable. Manufacturer's industry associations and lobbyists have so far resisted any "truth in labeling" restrictions on the use of the recycling symbol, or on words relating to recyclability or recycled content. If a manufacturer's marketing department thinks the recycle symbol will help sales, the symbol goes on. If the marketers think the symbol might hurt sales, it doesn't. Placement of a recycle symbol or similar label on a product is just a marketing decision, not a guarantee.

5. What happens to recyclables after collection?

Product

Process

Aluminum Baled and sold to Anheiser Busch to be turned back into aluminum cans
Glass Sorted by color and sold to Owen-Illinois to be made into glass bottles.
The broken glass is crushed to 1/2" minus and used in construction projects, in place of gravel.
MCDB's (milk carton/drink boxes) Baled and sold to Weyerhaeuser for fiber recovery
Plastic Bottles Sorted into three categories, 1. PET (Polyethylene Terethphalate) bottles, 2.) HDPE (high density polyethylene) Natural bottles (milk jugs), 3.) all other plastic bottles. The different bottles go to different markets around the US and Canada
Tin Cans Baled and sold to domestic scrap metal markets
Aerosol cans Baled with tin cans
Newspapers Loaded loose and sold to local fiber mills
Mixed Paper Sometimes mixed paper will be sorted for high grade paper or newspaper, depending on the markets. Then it is loaded loose and sold to local fiber mills or to another MRF.
OCC (Old Corrugated Cardboard) Baled and sold to local fiber mills
Motor Oil Collected by a fuel recovery company and burned for energy.
Scrap Metal Sold to a local scrap metal dealer
Anti-Freeze Collected by a fuel recovery company and distilled back into new anti-freeze
Household Batteries Collected by a hazardous waste recovery company, batteries are processed to recover heavy metals.

6. Where can I dispose of styrofoam peanuts? Can they be recycled?

You can send those peanuts off for reuse by calling a commercial mail service center near you. There are fourteen locations shown in the 2006 Clark County Recycling Directory or RecyclingA-Z.com.

8. Why is curbside recycling required if I have garbage service?

Curbside recycling is only required if you have more than one can a month. There are different service levels available if you check with Waste Connections.


1. What are the dangers of improper disposal of household hazardous waste (HHW)?

Household hazardous wastes when disposed of improperly (pouring wastes down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or putting them out with the trash) can effect human health and the environment The dangers of improper disposal may not be immediately obvious, but certain types of household hazardous waste have the potential to cause physical injury to sanitation workers; contaminate ground water at landfills; contaminate septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems if poured down drains or toilets; and present hazards to children and pets if left around the house. For information on hazardous products go to For information on using hazardous materials safely and other safety related information go to Hazardous Materials in Your Home.

2. How do I know what products are hazardous?

Before you buy a product - read the label. Make sure that you understand what hazards, if any, are associated with the product, its use, or its disposal. Look for the signal words on the container and buy the least hazardous product. For pesticides, "DANGER" means highly toxic, "WARNING" OR "CAUTION" moderately toxic and "CAUTION" slightly toxic. For household products, "POISON" means highly toxic, "DANGER" toxic, "WARNING" or "CAUTION" less toxic. For more information on identifying hazardous products go to Hazardous Materials In Your Home.

3. Are there alternatives to using hazardous products?

One of the best means of avoiding exposure to household hazardous materials is to use safer alternatives whenever possible. Included in this section are time-honored recipes and suggestions to help you make the switch toward safer household products. Ingredients followed by instructions will guide you through an array of easy-to-make, easy-to-use safer alternatives. Some ingredients recommended as alternatives are safer, but not nontoxic. For more information about using alternative products go to In The Home + Garage Safer Alternatives: Reducing the Risk and Alternatives to Pesticides

4. Why is it important to keep household hazardous wastes out of landfills?

Although new landfills have liners and leachate collection systems, it is important to keep HHW out of landfills, where they may affect water quality and impact area resources. Water infiltrating buried waste can collect a variety of harmful substances that may be present, and carry them into ground and surface water supplies as landfill leachate.

5. How can I dispose of household hazardous waste (HHW) properly/safely?

By taking HHW to any of the Clark County Free Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites. In addition, a Home Collection Program is available for eligible seniors and citizens with disabilities who are unable to transport HHW to a collection site or event. You may call (360) 397-2121 ext. 4352 to see if you qualify for a free home pick up.

Business generated hazardous waste is not accepted through these programs. Businesses should visit Small Quantity Generators (SQG) or contact the Clark County Solid Waste Program at (360) 397-2121 ext. 4352 for additional information and assistance with hazardous waste issues.

6. How can I dispose of latex/oil base paint?
By taking unwanted paint to participating paint collection sites, visit Old Paint - Paint Recycling Program - New Life, or by taking unwanted paint to any of the Clark County Free Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites. In addition, a Home Collection Program is available for eligible seniors and citizens with disabilities who are unable to transport HHW to a collection site or event. You may call (360) 397-2121 ext. 4352 to see if you qualify for a free home pick up.

Business generated hazardous waste is not accepted through these programs. Businesses should visit Small Quantity Generators (SQG) or contact the Clark County Solid Waste Program at (360) 397-2121 ext. 4352 for additional information and assistance with hazardous waste issues.

7. How can I dispose of empty paint cans?

Empty dried paint cans can be disposed of safely in your garbage can.

8. How can I buy recycled paint?

Call Portland METRO at (503) 234-3000 for a brochure and information about colors, prices and sales location or visit Metro Paint.

9. Where can I recycle computer components, TV's and other electronic devices?

Clark County residents can recycle their old computers, computer monitors, laptops, televisions, and monitors for FREE through the E-Cycle Washington program at one of the local E-Cycle Washington collection sites.  To find a recycler for other electronics such as stereo equipment, computer keyboards, and printers visit Recycling A-Z.  If you are a business call (360) 397-2121 ext. 4352.

10. Where can I dispose of used motor oil or used antifreeze?

If you have curbside recycling service at your home pour the used oil or antifreeze carefully into a clean plastic milk jug (remember to use separate containers for the oil and antifreeze, do not mix them) and screw the lid on tightly. Then place the jug(s) next to your recycling bins.

If you live in a multifamily complex (apartments or trailer parks), check with your manager to make sure oil changes are allowed at your facility. If they are allowed, place the jug of motor oil next to the recycling carts. Please do not put inside the carts because the oil will leak when collected and contaminate the rest of the recyclable material.

If you do not have curbside recycling or live in a multifamily complex that prohibits do-it-yourself vehicle maintenance, pour the used oil or antifreeze into a container with a secure lid for safe transporting to the drop-off site. [Remember to store and transport the oil and antifreeze in separate containers.]

Follow the links below for drop off locations: Motor Oil RecyclingAntifreeze Recycling

Where does it go next? Since oil gets dirty and never breaks down, it can be cleaned and reused at refineries or it can be blended and used as an alternative fuel source.

11. Can you recycle empty motor oil bottles?

Not locally. Empty motor oil bottles are difficult to recycle because of the oily residue that is left inside the bottle. When plastic bottles are processed they go over a series of conveyor belts. The oil residue gets into the gears and can foul the system. Bottle should be properly drained and discarded in the trash.

12. Where can I purchase re-refined motor oil?

For information on where you may purchase re-refined motor oil, or have your vehicle's oil changed with re-refined motor oil go to Re-Refined Oil.

13. How can I dispose of Sharps safely?

Throwing loose or containerized sharps into your trash container can hurt the people who handle your garbage and others who may come in contact with them. If you use syringes for any medical condition, or if you use any other sharps (hypodermic needles, syringes or intravenous (IV) tubing with needles attached, scalpel blades, and lancets), be sure to dispose of them properly. For information on proper disposal go to SHARPS.

14. How can I get rid of old outdated medications?

Improper disposal of unwanted medications can result in serious harm to humans, animals, and the environment. For information on proper disposal go to Unwanted Medications.

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Clark County Environmental Services - Recycling and Solid Waste
Peter DuBois, Acting Program Manager

Street Address: 1300 Franklin Street, 1st Floor, Vancouver, WA 98660
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 9810, Vancouver, WA 98666-9810
Main phone: (360) 397-2121 | Fax: (360) 397-2062
Relay 711 or (800) 833-6384
E-mail: solidwaste@clark.wa.gov

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