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How Can I Recycle Prescription Bottles?

I usually toss my empty prescription bottles in the recycling bin, but I recently learned that Portland Metro only accepts plastic containers that are 6 oz or larger. This rules out all of my prescription bottles, so I looked for alternatives.  Here’s what I learned:

 

6 oz or Larger Bottles

If your prescription bottle is 6 oz, you’re set. You don’t even have to check the number on the bottom.  All you have to do is rinse out the inside if it is dirty, and toss it in your blue co-mingled recycling bin. You can’t toss the lid in with it, but I will save that for another post.

 

Typical Prescription Bottle

If your prescription bottle is smaller than 6 oz and looks like this, then it is probably #5 plastic (polypropylene).  Even though we can’t toss these in the curbside recycling bins, we have a bunch of options to make sure these don’t end up in the landfill.

 

  • Preserve Gimme 5 Program

#5 plastic is good quality plastic.  Preserve collects empty prescription bottles and other #5 plastic containers to turn them into products such as toothbrushes and food storage containers.  There are several collection boxes located inside of Whole Foods stores in Portland to drop off your bottles. If you don’t live in Portland, click here to find your dropoff location.

 
Portland Locations: 
 
Fremont Store – 3535 NE 15th Ave.
 
Hollywood Store – 4301 NE Sandy Blvd. 
 
Laurelhurst Store – 2825 East Burnside St. 
 
Pearl Store – 1210 NW Couch St.


 
Important: Before you bring them to the dropoff location, remove the labels.  The best way to do this is to soak the bottle in hot water and then scrape the label off.  You can only drop off the lids if they are stamped with #5.

 

  • Far West Fibers

Far West Fibers has several recycling drop off depots in Portland. Far West Fibers is able to process many items that the normal curbside service cannot. You can bring your clean and de-labeled bottles to any of the locations listed.  They accept all plastic bottles #1 – #7, so you can also drop off your over-the-counter bottles, marked #2.  They also accept plastic lids, so bring those, too!

Locations:

NE Portland – 12820 NE Marx St.      Hours:  Mon-Fri: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm    Sat-Sun: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm

SE Portland – 4629 SE 17th Ave.      Hours: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm daily

N Portland – 2005 N Rosa Parks Way    Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily

NW Portland – 1520 NW Quimby St.       Hours: Tues-Sat 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

 

Target or Other #1 BottlesClearRX, Target Pharmacy's new prescription bottle

If your bottle is a ClearRx bottle from Target or any other #1 plastic and is under 6 oz, you have a couple options in Portland.  You can bring them to the Far West Fibers locations listed above, or you can bring them to Target pharmacies for recycling.  Some sources claim that pharmacies can reuse prescription bottles, but the pharmacies I called said they would never do that.

Locations: 

NE Portland – 9401 NE Cascade Pkwy.

SE Portland – 9800 SE Washington St.

Clackamas – 9000 SE Sunnyside Rd.


@ReginaTaurino

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