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Compost – what goes in the bin

Information
Whether you can compost – and what goes in the compost bin – varies depending on where you live or work.
On this page

At home

NOTE: Apartments or condos may not have compost service. Ask your property manager if you have compost service. Property managers: learn how to add compost service.

A green roll cart next to food items: a sandwich, quiche, doughnut, cheese, shrimp, fish, fried chicken, whole crab, egg shells, banana peel, orange, apple core, rice, lettuce, herbs. Plus, a paper coffee filter filled with coffee grouds, a paper tea bag, paper napkins, and a paper take-away pizza box.

Yes!

All food: Meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, bones, eggs and eggshells, cheese, dairy, bread, baked goods, pasta, rice, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit, peels and pits. Raw or cooked food, table scraps, plate scrapings, leftovers, and spoiled food are all okay.

Other: Paper coffee filters, paper tea bags, paper towels and napkins, pizza delivery boxes (remove any plastic or wax paper). Allowed bin liners: Paper, paper bag, or BPI-certified compostable bag.

No!

These items do not belong in your home compost:

  • NO waxed paper, parchment paper or facial tissue.
  • NO coffee cups, paper plates, take-out food containers or wrappers, drink cups, straws, or utensils.
  • NO “compostable” containers or other items labeled "compostable," "biodegradable," or "made from plants.” Learn why. (The only exception is BPI-certified compostable bags). 
A green roll cart next to tree branches with leaves, roses and other flowers with stems, grass clippings, leaves, and a pine cone.

Yes!

Yard debris: Weeds, leaves, vines, grass, small branches, flowers, house plants, plant clippings, fallen tree fruit, pumpkins.

No!

These items do not belong in your home compost:

  • NO pet waste, animal bedding (including straw and chicken manure), animal carcasses from hunting and fishing waste.
  • NO fireplace ashes, dirt, rocks, sod, lumber, treated wood, sawdust, stumps, or large branches (more than 4 inches thick or 36 inches long).

At work

Businesses may add compost collection to their garbage service.

A green roll cart next to food items: a sandwich, quiche, doughnut, cheese, shrimp, fish, fried chicken, whole crab, egg shells, banana peel, orange, apple core, rice, lettuce, herbs. Plus, a paper coffee filter filled with coffee grouds, a paper tea bag, and a green BPI-certified compostable trash bag filled with food scraps.

Yes!

All food: Meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, bones, eggs and eggshells, cheese, dairy, bread, baked goods, pasta, rice, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit, peels and pits. Raw or cooked food, plate scrapings, leftovers, and spoiled food are all OK.

Other: Paper coffee filters and tea bags and BPI-certified compostable bags are the only non-food items allowed in business compost.

No!

These items do not belong in your work compost:

  • NO waxed cardboard, pizza boxes, plastic-coated cardboard.
  • NO cups, to-go boxes or other packaging, even if labeled "compostable," "biodegradable," or "made from plants.” (Learn why and more about to-go packaging.)
  • NO paper products: This includes paper towels and napkins, parchment paper, paper plates, coffee cups, plastic-lined papers, to-go boxes. 
  • NO flowers, tree trimmings, leaves, grass, branches. Raw, painted, or treated wood; stumps, branches; pallets. Businesses can request yard debris pick-up from their garbage and recycling company.
  • NO beverage stir sticks (wood or plastic), toothpicks, plastic garbage bags, plastic wrap/film, metal, glass.
  • NO liquids, grease, or cooking oil. 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.

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