Recycling during the COVID-19 crisis

bag recycle receptacle

by Anne Lawrence

Goods are moving in and out of our homes in different ways now that we are following COVID-19 guidelines. Here are some ideas about receiving household materials and disposing of their packaging. As always, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in that order!

Grocery shopping

Many stores are providing new heavier plastic grocery bags, along with 5¢ paper bags. Consider having your purchases put in your cart, then you can load them into your bags when you get to your car. Choose products with less packaging.

Grocery delivery

Your groceries may arrive in heavy duty plastic grocery bags. Save these for reuse, but if you are concerned about contamination, set them aside for three days before reusing. They can also be recycled with film recycling at your grocery store (not in your bin).

Some are recommending using gloves to remove goods from delivery bags and leaving them outside for a few hours. We’ve heard reports of thefts though, so be careful where you leave them.

Restaurant delivery packaging

Wash hands after handling food packaging and before eating.

Ask the restaurant to reduce how much plastic you receive (disposable utensils, for example)

If your order contains clean paper or cardboard, recycle it in your bin as usual. Round plastic containers can be cleaned and included in your bin (but the lids go in the garbage). Trays from deli products, meat, and packaged meals go in the garbage, as do plastic and plastic-coated beverage cups, lids, straws, styrofoam containers, and plastic clamshells. Clean plastic wrap, plastic bags, and other stretchy plastic, such as baggies, can be recycled with film, described below.

Household goods delivery packaging

bag recycle receptacle
Bag Recycle bin at Safeway Cedar Mill

Flatten all cardboard before recycling. You do not have to remove paper labels or tape. Make sure that all clean cardboard goes into the proper recycling bin, not in the garbage.

You can recycle clean stretchy plastic, known as film, at participating grocers. Included in film recycling are: bubblewrap, plastic mailers, plastic bags, baggies, and stretchy plastic wrap, among other things. To learn more, go to the Plastic Film Recycling website, scroll down, and select a very informative video.


Agilyx has a 24/7 dropbox for clean polysterene, including clamshells and packaging blocks. Learn more here. Like them on Facebook for updates.

Redeemable bottles and cans

Most local fundraising groups have stopped collection during the quarantine.

Using the Green Bag Program, you can drop off bottles and cans at Bottle Drop locations. Open an account, purchase special green bags to put your containers in, and then place the filled bag in the drop off container. Credit will be applied to your account.

Local drop off spots include Fred Meyer on Walker Road, and in Market of Choice in Cedar Mill. More are listed under “Locations” on the website. For more information on this drop off program, visit the Bottle Drop website.


Second Edition, Goodwill, United Gospel Mission, and ReStores in our area have closed temporarily and are not accepting donations at this time. Please save your donations until the stores open again.