COVID-19 Risk Level for Multnomah County: High Risk

Garbage service for multifamily properties

Learn how to set up garbage service if you own or manage a multifamily property.

On this page

We know you’ve got a lot on your plate. When it comes to managing garbage and recycling, multifamily property managers face a unique set of challenges. And when things don’t go smoothly, you’re left with the mess, which costs time and money to fix.

You need a garbage and recycling collection system that works—for you, your residents and your maintenance staff. We can help you ensure your collection set up is easy to use and residents know the right way to handle recycling and garbage.

Meeting garbage & recycling requirements

Owners and managers of multifamily properties are required to provide and pay for adequate garbage and recycling service.

Provide adequate service. Get the right combination of garbage and recycling containers to allow recycling of all permitted materials. Prevent garbage from accumulating and creating a sanitary hazard between collections.

Inform new residents. You’re responsible for providing new residents with information on how to recycle within thirty days of move in.

Conduct an annual reminder. Update existing residents on how to recycle at least once a year. An easy to use system and regular, ongoing education keeps residents up to speed on how garbage and recycling work.

By fulfilling your requirements, you do your part to make sure that all Portlanders have the opportunity to recycle.

Setting up service

Unlike surrounding cities, Portland’s multifamily property owners and managers select a garbage and recycling company from over three dozen City licensed businesses. We can provide a list of commercial companies, as well as offer guidelines to choosing the service you want for your property.

Find a commercial garbage company

Ask for recommendations. Connect with other property managers in your company or in the neighborhood. Learn about how their garbage and recycling company is working for them.

Obtain multiple bids and negotiate. Reach out to several different companies. Select the one that will provide the best services for your community. Cost, number and size of containers, frequency of service and days of collection are all negotiable.

Identify the best location. Ensure collection trucks easily access your collection system. When possible, outside is best. The company you select will provide the roll carts and containers for garbage and recycling collection.

Ensure containers are in working condition. They must have up-to-date photo and text stickers that clearly identify the items that can go inside. We have free stickers in a variety of languages.

Establish a successful relationship your garbage and recycling company to help you establish and maintain a clean, effective and successful collection area. Contact them with:

  • Questions about recycling and composting
  • Requests for collection of bulky items, such as furniture and mattresses
  • Service requests to adjust containers, collection time, days and frequency
  • Questions about billing and account information or other concerns

Adding compost service

While composting isn’t required, it is increasingly popular with residents. Before kicking off a composting program at your multifamily property, determine if you’re set up for success or whether it’s best to hold off.

Evaluate your current system. Composting works best when multifamily residents already manage garbage and recycling the right way. Evaluate collection at your property to see if your set up needs to be fine-tuned. Contact us if you’d like support making improvements or need a recycling refresher to share with your residents.

Assess interest. Composting is most successful when at least half of your residents participate. You’re also more likely to see a measureable decrease in garbage. Send an email survey or post a tear-off sheet near the mail-boxes to assess interest at your property.

Get in touch with your garbage and recycling company. Together, you can discuss everything you need to get started:

  • Number of containers needed
  • The best space for collecting food scraps
  • Food scrap collection days and frequency
  • Potential costs

Update your set up. Add signage to your collection area that includes food scraps, recycling, glass and garbage. Make sure all collection containers are clearly stickered. Free signs and stickers are available through us.

Contact your residents. Ensure residents know about the new composting program and any changes in service. Emails or posted updates are best. Order our composting guide and magnets to give to residents and help them compost the right way.

Define success. Create a few measures to evaluate the success of food scrap composting at your multifamily property, such as:

  • High resident participation
  • Lower unit turnover
  • Less garbage collected
  • Increased sense of “doing the right thing”

Motivating new residents

Informed residents and an easy-to-use collection system are key to making your garbage and recycling program a success. Ensure new residents understand the basics.

Provide a move-in tour. Walk new residents through your garbage and recycling area(s). Show them how your collection system works. We have free brochures and refrigerator magnets to include in lease-up packets.

Consider a recycling lease addendum.

Encourage new residents to manage recycling correctly while discouraging non-compliant behaviors. We offer template language for recycling lease addendums.

Set expectations with packing materials.

Make new residents responsible for breaking down cardboard boxes for recycling. Share drop-off locations for packing peanuts and other materials that aren’t accepted in your collection area.

Providing ongoing education

Don’t stop at move in. Keep all residents up to speed on how garbage and recycling works through regular, ongoing education.

Prevent common mistakes before they occur.

Make sure all residents know how to dispose of items not accepted in the garbage and recycling area:

  • Electronic devices including computers, monitors and TVs
  • Plastic bags, Styrofoam and fluorescent light bulbs
  • Batteries, paint, motor oil and other household hazardous waste

Also let residents know how to dispose of items that can overload the garbage and recycling area, such as:

  • Bulky waste like furniture and mattresses
  • Large quantities of moving boxes
  • Holiday trees

If you're not sure how to properly collect and dispose of these items, contact Metro's Recycling Information Specialists for advice: 503-234-3000.

Provide regular reminders. Update residents on what is recyclable. From “Green Tips” for your newsletter to recycling door hangers—we have free tools and resources designed specifically for multifamily properties. Research shows that posting two or three reminders can decrease contamination and increase participation as much as 20 percent.

Get ahead of holiday waste. Residents generate extra garbage during the holidays. Early communication goes a long way towards ensuring proper disposal and controlling the costs of extra garbage. Provide guidance around recurrent concerns such as holiday tree disposal.

Get free support today

We can help you prevent mistakes with waste before they happen at your multifamily property. And save time and money in the process. We’re available by phone, email and in person. Get free resources today.

Phone: 503-823-7202

Email: multifamily@portlandoregon.gov

You can also request free educational materials for your residents:

Order free materials