Commingled Recycling System Described 

Cities in Lane County (with populations over 4,000) are required by state law to provide all curbside garbage customers with the opportunity to recycle curbside. Outside the urban growth boundaries of these cities, no law or regulation system requires that recycling services are provided along with garbage service. Lane County transfer stations provide convenient drop-off for all rural areas.

Lane County operates 16 transfer stations where residents and businesses may self-haul garbage and/or recycling. Here is a list of what we accept.

On February 1st 2015, the 15 rural transfer sites will begin accepting the six categories of household recycling in one commingled bin. This change will reduce the transportation costs of fuel time and pollution associated with many separate bins.  However, our Central transfer station located in Glenwood will not accept commingle and continues to collect and provide recycle-ready materials to manufacturing plants. 

Lane County does not offer curbside collection services for residents or businesses. We provide this information about commingled recycling as a service to our customers and help haulers educate citizens about how to "recycle it all and recycle it right!"

 IMPORTANT NOTE: not ALL garbage and recycling haulers in lane county are collecting commingled recycling materials. Be sure to follow instructions from YOUR garbage and recycling hauler.

To "Recycle it All"  at the curb is just not possible.
Automated commingled collection has been extremely successful at increasing the number of people who recycle and reduce injuries and pollution on collection routes.  However, the automated system that sorts the recycling into separate categories again is damaged and fails when plastic bags or other incorrect items are placed in the bin. As much as 15% of the materials correctly placed in curbside recycling can end up being sent to the wrong facility where it will be trashed because of our wishful recycling at the curb. 

Please! NO plastic bags and NOTHING but those items listed as acceptible should go in curbside recycling. Wishful Recycling does not work!

Handy tips on how to "Recycle it Right" with curbside commingling:   read below for explaination as to why these tips work.

  • Remove food and all other debris. Pizza boxes should be trashed unless grease and food contamination is cut off and removed! 

  • If  Plastic, ONLY bottles, tubs, jugs and jars should be recycled! No other shape.  If milk carton material, most sort facilities report that only 1/2 gallon size or larger are successfully recycled.

  • Keep GLASS OUT of the commingled recycling

  • Keep plastic bags OUT of the commingled materials. View  video message. 

  • Small or flat Aluminum trays/foil should be wadded into large ball so as not to be mistaken for papers.  

  • Do not flatten items: keep tin cans, plastics and cartons in their original  shape (see why below)

  • Do not nest materials within unlike materials (ie. a tin can inside a cereal box) 

IF IN DOUBT LEAVE IT OUT !  Click here for Tips on how to "Recycle it All" beyond the bin.

Contamination at the curb causes sorting technology to fail.
For most, its a well-intentioned desire to recycle as much as possible, we toss it in with the hopeful faith that someone will sort it our.  But it causes significant problems for commingled recycling systems when we put incorrect items in the curbside rollcarts. Though carts are big enough to hold everything, there are good reasons why only certain items are allowed and why glass must be kept separate.

Here's how it works
Mixed material collected at the curb is delivered to a Material Recovery Facility or "MRF" (pronounced murf) where it is sorted and separated through a combination of automated and hand sorting processes. Here is a video of this process at SP Recycling, one of the 5 facilities that process most of Oregon's curbside materials.

After some hand picking of large materials (belts moving 45 ft. per minute!), mixed material travels upward along a conveyor belt made of hard rubber wheels spaced just far enough apart to allow bottles and cans fall through while pushing flat cardboard and paper up to another system of separation.  Click here for photo description of this process.

Clogged Machines
When wishful recyclers put incorrect items in their bin, this sorting system quickly fails. The photo to the right shows how bags get wound around the machinery, filling the openings in the screens and making it impossible for milk jugs, plastic soda bottles and cans to fall through and be recycled correctly. With screens clogged like this, the plastics and cans end up being baled with the paper and this has become a huge problem for paper plants in the Pacific Northwest.

That’s why plastic bags--or any flexible or flat plastics--should NOT be thrown in your curbside cart.  Please make a firm commitment to keep bags and other flat plastics OUT of commingled recycling carts (glass too) and tell everyone you know!

Recyclables become trash when sent to wrong facility
Another problem for commingled sorting is when dimensional materials like tin cans or beverage cans and bottles are flattened. Since the sorting mechanics depend on the dimentional shape to sort different items, flattened items are more likely to stay with the paper and end up as a contaminant in the paper sold to paper mills.  Since curbside haulers must do some compaction in their trucks, it's important that we do not flatten tin and plastic containers--and avoid "nesting" cans or bottles inside paper boxes. THANKS!