Recycle Right Project


Between April and June of 2018, we were in a number of neighborhoods to provide individualized feedback on how residents were recycling. You may have found an informational tag on your cart when you retrieved it from the curb. The tags recognized recycling carts that contained properly sorted recycling or alerted residents to items that did not belong in their recycling cart.

Cart tagging

What were the project results?

During the first week, only 37 percent of homes across all neighborhoods received a ‘Nice Job’ tag. By the sixth and final week of the study, that number had risen to 54 percent. The most common items people mistakenly recycled included plastic bags, paper towels, to-go cups for hot and cold drinks, and plastic ‘clamshell’ containers. None of these items belong in curbside recycling.

County staff will use the lessons learned during this pilot project to inform future cart tagging efforts.

Why did we do this project?

The presence of non-accepted materials in recycling has been an ongoing issue. For example, a 2015 study found that, in our region, nine percent of the materials placed in single-family recycling actually belonged in the garbage.

Due to changes in global recycling markets, the cost to process recycling has risen significantly. The most important contribution you can make is to put only approved materials in your recycling. By recycling correctly, you help keep recycling quality up and costs down, all while keeping valuable materials out of the landfill.

How were carts evaluated?

Clackamas County contracted with an authorized third-party contractor who specializes in waste and recycling. The contractor observed what was in recycling carts, then left the appropriate feedback tag. They did not remove items. They followed professional standards set by the County. Data collected, including any information pertaining to recycling at your household, is confidential and anonymous. You may remove the tag placed on your cart.

What can and cannot be recycled at home?

Even if you believe you are recycling right, it is always good to review the recycling list.


If you have questions about recycling, the project, or have concerns, please contact us at 503-742-4463.

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