Compost – what goes in the bin

Information
Learn what can and can’t go in your green compost bin in Portland. For homes, that includes food and yard waste. At businesses, it's food only.
On this page
A woman dumps a small pail full of food scraps into her curbside green compost bin. Icons of an apple and a leaf are shown next to her. Then a photo of a man in a restaurant apron lowers a bag of food waste into a green compost cart. An icon of an apple core is shown beside him.

Home vs. Business: It’s different

Residential curbside compost collection allows food and yard waste, as well as food-soiled paper and pizza boxes.

Business compost collection is food only.

Apartments or condos that offer compost service may be food only or may allow yard waste as well. Look at the stickers on the bin or ask the property manager.

Learn why the guidelines are different and how your food and yard waste are turned into nutrient-rich fertilizers and renewable energy.


Food

Photos of: a banana peel, toast, egg shells, coffee grounds in a paper filer, a paper tea bag, a wedge of cheese, a pizza slice with a bite out of it, shrimp, salad with cucumbers and tomato, macaroni and cheese, chicken bones, and a green bag with a BPI logo filled with food scraps.

All food is allowed

  • Meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, cheese, dairy, bread, baked goods, pasta, rice, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruit.
  • Peels, pits, eggshells, bones, and coffee grounds.
  • Raw or cooked food, plate scrapings, leftovers, and spoiled food.

Allowed non-food items

  • Paper coffee filters
  • Paper tea bags

Allowed bin liners

What’s NOT allowed

Large red X next to photographs of a "compostable" clear plastic drink cup with green markings, a red paper soda cup with clear plastic lid and red plastic straw, a black paper coffee cup with black plastic lid, a clear clamshell shaped take-out food container, a white take-out food container with napkins inside, a brown paper take-out food box, a plastic fork, plastic spoon, and "compostable" plastic knife, and a white paper plate with ketchup and mustard on it.

NO coffee cups, paper plates, take-out food containers or wrappers, drink cups, straws, or utensils.

NO “compostable” containers, packaging, or other items labeled "compostable," "biodegradable," or "made from plants.” Learn why. (The only exception is BPI-certified compostable bags). 

NO waxed paper, parchment paper or facial tissue.

NO beverage stir sticks (wood or plastic) or toothpicks.

NO plastic bags, plastic wrap, metal, or glass: Remove all packaging from food before putting it in your compost bin.

NO liquids, grease, or cooking oil. 

  • At home: Put cooking oil, kitchen fats, and grease in a sealed plastic bag or container with tightly sealed lid and place in the garbage.
  • At work: Businesses can set up collection of used cooking oil and/or animal rendering from independent processors. Find companies through Metro’s Find a Recycler or call 503-234-3000.

Yard waste

Homes (and smallplexes with up to 4 units) can put food and yard waste together in their green bin. 

Businesses cannot put yard waste or food soiled paper in their compost. 

Photographs of a pile of dandelion weeds, a branch from a fir tree, three wilted red roses, a pile of yellow and red leaves, a take-out cardboard pizza box, and a paper napkin with coffee spill marks.

Types of allowed yard waste

  • Weeds, leaves, vines, grass, flowers, house plants, plant clippings, pumpkins.
  • Small branches (less than 4 inches thick and 36 inches long)

Other allowed items

  • Food soiled napkins and paper towels.
  • Pizza delivery boxes (remove any plastic or wax paper)

What’s NOT allowed

A large red X next to photos of a green bag of dog poop, a pile of rocks, a pile of dirt, a piece of treated 2x4" wood, a piece of untreated 4x6" wood, a tree stump that's at least a food wide and a foot and a half tall.

NO pet waste, animal bedding (including straw and chicken manure), or animal carcasses from hunting and fishing.

NO fireplace ashes, dirt, rocks, sod, lumber, treated wood, or sawdust.

NO stumps or large branches (more than 4 inches thick and 36 inches long).

NO raw, painted, or treated wood or pallets. 


Not sure if it can go in compost?

Contact us at 503-823-7202 or wasteinfo@portlandoregon.gov.


Printable guides

Print a residential recycling guide

Print a business recycling guide