Portage County recycling: Where and what to recycle

Image of a recycling bin
Recycling in Portage County. Photo by Sigmund

Recycling in Portage County may seem complicated. Which plastics are allowed in the big blue bins? Which aren’t? What about paper? 

In a recent story about recycling, we mentioned the types of plastics that can be recycled with the Portage County Solid Waste Management District, along with some common exceptions. The story led to questions from readers, and we decided to write an article just about what is and isn’t recyclable in Portage County.

Also see: Further clarifying recycling confusion

Let’s start with plastic.

Technically, you can recycle plastics numbered 1-7. But that’s not always helpful if items aren’t clearly labeled.

Here’s the real deal, and it aligns with a nationwide movement that steps away from getting hung up on numbers:

“If it was in your kitchen, and it was a bottle, jug, or tub, and it’s cleaned out, you can put it in your container,” said Bill Steiner, director of the Portage County Solid Waste Management District.

Even within that general guideline, there are exceptions.Those clear plastic bins of produce? No. Plastic carry out containers? Again, no.

But rinsed out tubs of butter or margarine are acceptable. So are yogurt and creamer containers, juice and milk containers, and glass bottles, Steiner said. Aluminum cans? Yes.

And we know we said not to get hung up on the numbers, but take a quick look at that empty laundry container. Is the recycling number 1 or 2? Put it in the recycling bin.

Shrink wrap, plastic grocery bags and bread bags are not acceptable as they tend to wrap around the machinery and gum up the sorting process, Steiner said. Plastic toys and hangers are also unacceptable.

Cardboard, even non-greasy pizza boxes are fine, but please cut them down so they fit in the bin. If you have too much, stack it neatly next to the bin. Cardboard cannot have a wax or foil coating on it. 

All paper, newspaper, junk mail, magazines and receipts are acceptable. Shredded paper, as long as it is in a paper bag and labeled “shredding,” is fine.

Styrofoam, bubble wrap, wood, window glass, mirrors and light bulbs are banned from the bin. So is construction debris, yard debris, food waste and general trash. Wood is out, as are batteries, electronics, appliances, hoses and cords, and furniture.

OK, last but not least: plastic grocery bags.

For folks looking to dispose of used, no-longer-needed plastic grocery bags, there are options. Contact the Center of Hope in Ravenna or Kent Social Services to see if they need bags for their food distribution programs. Contact your local Lions Club to see if they are participating in a different recycling program: one that transforms those bags into benches.

The Kent Lions Club does: bring your bags of plastic bags to the Kent United Methodist Church, 1435 E. Main St., from noon to 2 p.m. on the last Friday of each month. Five hundred pounds of bags equals one Trex bench. At their last event on March 26, the club took in over 300 pounds of bags, Kent Lion Tony DeLuke said.

For those who are able to do so, take a ride out to the Portage County Dog Warden’s office, located at 8120 Infirmary Road in Ravenna Township. They’ll turn your bags into benches as well.

Corporate-owned Giant Eagle supermarkets, located in Ravenna, Rootstown, Stow and Streetsboro have drop-off bins for grocery bags. So does Lowe’s in Brimfield and Streetsboro.

If anyone has additional recycling options, let us know. We’ll pass on the info, for the good of the planet.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.

  1. Thanks for clarifying recycling. However, I still have a question: milk, juice, and butter “containers” are acceptable but, if “cardboard covered in wax” is not allowed, then all of my milk, butter, and juice “containers” would not be allowed because I believe those “containers” are covered in wax. This seems contradictory. Can you clarify?

  2. (Not a letter to the editor for publication but, rather, questions for a follow up article.
    I fully believe in recycling but not the half-a**ed program we now have.)
    So no glass?
    What about food cans?
    If I have to pay to discard glass, foil, food cans, some plastics, greasy pizza boxes, etc. (in the trash), what is the point of a recycle program?
    Is recycling only paper and some plastics worth the additional cost to me (for trash), and to the environment in the form of truck traffic, (road wear and tear, gasoline emissions, etc.), and facility footprint and infrastructure)?
    What happens to the bin contents if the wrong things are in it?

    1. Hey Karen! According to Wendy:

      Glass bottles and aluminum cans and non-yucky foil are acceptable. Non-recyclable items are separated out at the facility if possible. The director said about 23% of intake is actually not recyclable, which is about an industry standard.

  3. All those column inches dedicated to plastics and not one word about metals. Oh well half a good report is better than none.

  4. I hate to say it, but I’m even more confused about what can be recycled in Portage County than I was before I read this article! For curbside bins, the Portage County recycling website (portagerecycles.com/single-stream/) clearly states that they accept #1 and #2 plastics only, NOT #1-#7. Help!

    1. Hey Kate, yeah, really good point. Wendy looked into this previously and says this:

      I asked him about that. He said they need to update the website. They really need to clarify things. I’m going with 1-7, excluding carry out containers and produce containers. Cans, bottles, and paper were always OK. But not the puffy mailing envelopes. It is confusing.

  5. Really confusing. When the website is updated, with pictures of what is acceptable and what is not, plz let us know. Meanwhile, it’s really depressing to see my neighbors use the recycle bin for trash disposal.

  6. I would like to know that if I cut my strawberry plastic boxes at the seam will they then not mess up the recycling machines and be acceptable?? I hate to think of the produce plastic boxes accumulation in a dump and ending up microparticles in the ocean. They are #1, PETE so I currently am cutting the top from bottom and adding them to recycle.

    1. Good question! Answer from Wendy:

      Plastic clamshell containers that held produce or fruit are not recyclable. Sorry. But it turns out laundry soap jugs are, regardless of whether its numbered 1 or 2.

    1. Good question! Wendy’s answer:

      I’ve always taken mine to an oil change location…they’re all over. Call ahead first to make sure they will accept the used oil. If they don’t, try another company.

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