What Is and Isn't Recyclable in Salem

Salem is a fairly good city about being able to recycle many types of materials. Local area garbage collectors are responsible for the curbside recycling the occurs in Salem, which is very helpful if you own (or rent) a house in either Salem, West Salem, or Keizer. There are many recycling centers in Salem, all of which may be found using your Salem-area telephone directory. What is recyclable?

Just about anything that is clean (i.e. no food, oil, dirt, or other stuff on the thing) can be recycled somewhere in Salem. Here is a listing of what is easily recyclable:

CARDBOARD - Includes both the corrugated types (like big heavy moving boxes and pizza boxes) and the thin types (like cereal boxes, CD longboxes, and shoe boxes). HOWEVER, the two types (corrugated and thin) are NOT the same, and should not be recycled as if they are the same. The thin type of cardboard is often referred to as PAPERBOARD or KRAFT PAPER (the most common name). Corrugated cardboard can be picked up at the curbside, but thin cardboard needs to be taken to either Garten Foundation or any other recycling office that accepts kraft paper. All cardboard (of both types) MUST be clean, meaning no glue, wax, plastic, or grease from a pizza (in the case of a pizza box). If cardboard is dirty, the only thing you can do with it is throw it out.

GLASS - Includes green and brown colored glass, as well as clear glass. HOWEVER, the different colors are NOT the same, and should not be recycled as if they were the same. Glass separated by color can be left at the curb on your regular trash day. The glass items must be contained in a paper or plastic bag (or a box or something like that), please don't just set glass jars on the curb, because they might fall over and break. All glass MUST be clean, meaning no food left on or in the item. Paper labels may be left on. Broken glass is also recyclable, but it must be clean and contained so that it will not harm others.

NEWSPAPER - Includes school and local newspapers (and all advertisements that come with the newspaper, even if it's on glossy paper). Newspaper is picked up at the curbside (on your regular trash day), and must be either tied up into bundles or contained in paper bags (so that the paper doesn't fly all over the place if it gets windy). Newspaper should be clean - no food, oil, grease, etc. Dirty newspaper should be thrown out (or mulched, if you have a garden).

TIN - Includes most food cans (like soup cans, vegetable cans, juice cans like V8, pet food cans, coffee cans). ALSO includes the ends of most frozen juice cans, which are easily removed. Cans must be opened at both ends (using a can opener is easiest), their paper labels removed, and the cans flattened. Both the lids and the can are recyclable. Some cans can't be opened at both ends (like some tuna fish cans), so flatten them as much as you can. BEFORE flattening the cans, though, they must be CLEANED out of whatever was in them. If you have a dishwasher, just run them through once. If not, a quick rinse and scrub that removes what is left of the contents is sufficient. Tin can be picked up at the curbside or can be taken to a recycling center (like Garten Foundation).

ALUMINUM - Includes aluminum foil, the bottoms of some cardboard cans (like Pringles Chips cans), the metal TV dinner trays, etc. Once again, the aluminum must be CLEAN, meaning no food on it. Aluminum can be picked up at the curbside, or taken to a recycling center.

MAGAZINES - Includes all magazines, from Newsweek to Playboy. Magazines should be clean, meaning no food on them (like if you spilled milk on a magazine, it should be thrown away as opposed to recycled). Magazines are not picked up at the curbside. There are two ways to recycle magazines - taking them to the Salem Public Library, or taking them to a recycling center. The Salem Public Library has a "magazine trading" area where people can leave used magazines and pick up other peoples used magazines. If you have some (even only one) that you want to get rid of, you can take it there and leave it at the magazine trading area for other people to have. This area is the counter on the left of the lobby as you enter through the front doors.

PAPER - Paper comes in several forms: computer paper, colored paper, and white paper. Computer paper can be considered white if it is white, or colored if it's a colored computer paper. In reality, most computer paper is a much higher quality than other types of paper, and so can be recycled differently - most recycling centers will take computer paper as computer paper, with separate areas for white and colored paper. If you use a huge amount of computer paper, like around 100 sheets a day, that you could recycle, it might be possible to sell your computer paper by the pound to a local recycling center. Writing on paper does not matter, but if the entire page is completely covered in ink or pencil, it probably shouldn't be recycled. White paper includes things like notebook paper (except the yellow legal pads), white computer paper, drawing paper, white envelopes (remove the plastic window, if there is one), etc. Colored paper includes all paper that is not white. Computer paper refers to continuous feed paper (the kind with the holes on each side), and single-sheet paper (like would go through a laser printer). One other option for recycling computer paper is to print on the back of it. I print everything on the back of computer paper I got from other places, and haven't used any new paper for almost a year (that's how long ago I thought of printing on the back of paper).

PLASTICS - Now this is the fun one. By "fun", I mean "confusing and hard". Undoubtedly, if you've spent any time around plastic lately, you have noticed that some plastic items (like plastic milk cartons) have somewhere on them a recycle-like triangle, and a number inside the triangle. This number is very important, because if something doesn't have a number, then it is absolutely not recyclable. (If you haven't seen the numbers, look for them next time you're at the store on the plastic milk cartons. The number, a 2, should be on one of the sides of the carton. It's pretty big, bigger than a quarter, so it's not that hard to see, although on other items it might be smaller.) Now that you've found the number on something, note this - only the even numbers are recyclable. So far, the numbering of plastics goes up to 6, starting at 1. The different numbers stand for different types of plastic, and each number is very different from the others. So only plastics with the numbers 2, 4, and 6 are recyclable. So if you want to recycle them, clean them out first, and store them somewhere for a while. It also helps to keep them separate, like in different bags, so you don't have to sort them when you take them in to be recycled. The reason you store them for a while is because the only plastics recycling that occurs in Salem is on the third Saturday of each month at the Thriftway store on Lancaster road in east Salem. That is the only way to recycle most plastics, like 2's and 4's, but it does work and they get a lot of response on those Saturdays. If all you have are empty, clean plastic milk cartons, then they can be taken to either the Garten Foundation or the Valley Garbage Service office on the Salem-Dallas Highway (across the bridge to West Salem), where they can be dropped off. Note that this is only plastic milk cartons, and nothing else. It is impossible for me to tell you what might be recyclable, because it seems like every day something goes from either being a non-recyclable plastic to a recyclable plastic, or vise-versa. You just have to look at your plastics, and see for yourself. Some things that are good to check though are plastic milk cartons, plastic margarine/butter tubs, cottage cheese/sour cream containers, some plastic juice containers that look like the same kind of plastic as plastic milk cartons, and some of the plastic six-pack rings that hold a six-pack of pop or beer together.

POP/BEER CANS AND BOTTLES - Oregon has a deposit on almost all pop and beer bottles and cans. When you go to a store to buy pop or beer, you usually pay an extra 5 cents per pop can, 10 cents per pop bottle, and 2 to 5 cents per beer can/bottle. This is the deposit, and is a way to ensure more recycling of pop and beer containers. When the can/bottle is empty, you can take it back to any store (like Safeway, IGA, or Fred Meyers), and they will give you your 5 or 10 cents back. Usually what you do is save up a bag full of cans or bottles, and take them all back at once. You can also make money this way by finding pop or beer cans or bottles around, and taking them back yourself. You won't earn a lot of money this way, but it's better than nothing. Pop and beer cans should NOT be flattened or smashed, and pop/beer bottles should not be broken. If they are, then they can be recycled as regular aluminum or glass. If you take them back to the store, they don't even have to be clean (although they like it better if they aren't absolutely filthy), so it's really easy to recycle pop/beer cans/bottles in Salem.

MOTOR OIL - Not so much something for most students, but for people at home, if you change your own oil, you can recycle it. When you remove the old oil, pour it into a very secure container (something that won't leak) - an empty plastic milk carton works well. Then, on your regular trash day, leave it at the curb with your other recycling, and it will be taken away to be recycled. Make sure that only the motor oil is in the container - don't mix other lubricants or cleaning fluid or any other engine fluids with it.

This is all I can think of right now, but I've included a lot of stuff - everything that I recycle. My family cut our garbage output by half when we started recycling everything on this list, and boy did we have a lot to recycle.

Below is a listing of recycling centers in Salem and their phone numbers:

General recycling centers

Capitol Recycling: 393-8606

Clayton-Ward Recycling Co: 393-8700

D&O Garbage Service: 363-7923

Garten Foundation (Garten Recycling): 581-4473

Loren's Sanitation Service Inc: 393-2262

Marion County Solid Waste Management: 588-0711

Information about recycling: 588-5169

Marion Recycling Center: 390-4000

Pacific Sanitation Inc: 393-1031

Recycle Resources Inc: 585-6741

Valley Garbage Service: 585-4300

Specialty recycling centers

Western Recycling (scrap metal, appliances, batteries): 585-3330

City Recycling (scrap metal, appliances, batteries): 390-0973

Stellar Recycling Co (tires): 370-4970

Waste Wood Recycling (wood, sod, leaves): 393-4461

Anderson's Chipping Service (wood): 362-9067

Tyler Jones, April 26, 1993