What can I recycle?

Recycling greatly reduces our impact on the environment by allowing us to keep waste out of landfills. But sometimes it’s tough to know what you can and can’t recycle. Read on to learn what you can recycle with our quick recycling guide.

What to Recycle

Ideally, you’ll want to fill your recycling bin strictly with items that can be recycled. Mixing in items that can’t or shouldn’t be recycled reduces the effectiveness of the recycling system and therefore should be avoided. If you’re unsure of whether or not an item can be recycled, either throw it in the trash (just to be safe) or search online to find out. Lane County has a useful tool called the Garbage Guru that allows you to search a database to find whether or not an item should be recycled.

As a general rule, some of the items that can be recycled are:

What can I recycle?

Cardboard & Egg Cartons

When recycling cardboard and egg cartons, be sure to fold them flat. Any cardboard will also need to be cleaned. Be sure to not put any waxed cardboard in with your recyclables. And it is recommended to throw away any cardboard that has been contaminated with grease, such as pizza boxes, since it can reduce the effectiveness of the recycling system.

Recycling milk jugs and drink bottles.

Milk Jugs & Drink Bottles

In Eugene, OR, only transparent bottles may be recycled. Be sure to rinse out and dry all plastic jugs and bottles before recycling. You’ll also want to throw away the lids as they aren’t accepted.

Recycling tin, steel and aluminum cans.

Tin, Steel, and Aluminum Cans

The only accepted metal cans in Eugene are food and drink cans. Aerosol, paint, or chemical cans are not accepted. Tear off the label and rinse out the cans before putting it in the recycling bin.

Recycling paper products.

Paper Products

Paper products such as newspaper, magazines, direct mail, and office paper can be mixed together with your other recyclable materials. Shredded paper is no longer accepted, so be sure to throw away any shredded paper.

Recycling glass bottles and jars.

Glass Bottles & Jars

Glass bottles and jars may be recycled, but need to be kept in a separate recycling bin. Be sure to clean out any glass containers prior to recycling. Broken glass is not accepted in Eugene and will need to be thrown away.

Recycling used motor oil.

Used Motor Oil

If you plan on doing your own oil change, you’ll want to safely dispose of it when you’re done using it. To do this, store it in an unbreakable container with a screw top. Then ask your hauler where you should set it for them to pick it up. Local auto parts stores such as Autozone also take used motor oil, but call ahead first just to be sure!

What not to recycle

Things to Not Recycle

Just as important as knowing what to recycle is knowing what not to recycle. Keeping your recycle bin as pure as possible will help make things work more efficiently. Too many contaminants or non-recyclable materials can cause the whole batch to not be recyclable. Here are a list of things you should not put in your recycle bin (and some tips for repurposing them!):

  • Greasy pizza boxes

  • Plastic plant pots – some pots can be reused and your local gardening centers might have a use for them.

  • Plastic Solo cups – can be used as starter plant pots, or as a way to hold all of your pens and pencils.

  • Plastic grocery bags – talk with your local grocery store to see if they have a recycling program in place for used bags.

  • Lightbulbs – turn an old lightbulb into a mini snow globe or vase.

  • Milk cartons or other aseptic containers – yet another great craft item.

  • Drink lids or straws – straws can be turned into straw rockets or necklaces.

  • Broken glass – broken glass can be repurposed for mosaic art pieces.

  • Bottle caps – save all your bottle caps to turn them into a bottle cap mosaic art piece!

  • Shredded paper – use shredded paper for packing.

By keeping these items out of your recycling bin you are keeping the material from being contaminated and helping the recycling process work better!

Local recycling center.

Talk with Your Local Recycling Center

Hopefully this quick recycling guide will help you distinguish what should and shouldn’t be recycled. If you have any questions regarding recycling, give your local recycling center a call. They will be able to inform you of any changes in what can be recycled, as well as give you some tips for preparing the recyclable materials to help the process work better. And remember: when in doubt, throw it out!