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Improvements to Multifamily Recycling

A black garbage cart with black sticker that reads "garbage", a blue cart with a sticker that reads "recycling", and an orange cart with a sticker that reads "glass".
Over the next few years, changes will be made to make recycling easier at apartments and other multifamily communities. This includes improved garbage and recycling service levels, easy-to-understand signs, and color-coded containers.

Changes to make recycling easier

Over the next few years, the following improvements will be made to garbage and recycling services at apartments and other multifamily properties with five or more residential units:

Clearly labeled bins and waste areas

All garbage and recycling containers and waste collection areas will be labeled with new signs and stickers. Signs will be the same across the greater Portland area. All bins are expected to be labeled by the end of 2023.

Color-coded bins

Current garbage and recycling bins will be replaced with ones that are color-coded:

  • Recycling bins will be blue
  • Glass bins will be orange
  • Garbage bins will be gray or black

The bins will be the same colors in all apartments and multifamily communities in the greater Portland area. All bins are expected to be color-coded by the end of 2028.

Minimum garbage and recycling service requirements

The City requires a minimum level of service for garbage, recycling, and glass recycling including:

  • Per unit service volume minimums for garbage, recycling and glass service.
  • Weekly minimum collection frequency.

This will reduce the problem of overflowing bins and missing recycling containers. 

Note: If your apartment building or multifamily property already meets the City’s minimum service requirements and the service is already sufficient, you may not see an increase in the number of bins or frequency of pickup.

Property managers: Learn what your minimum service requirements are by entering the number of residential units at your property into this calculator tool:

Why are these changes happening?

In 2015 Metro, the City of Portland, and other local cities and counties began researching how to improve garbage and recycling services for people living in apartments and other multifamily communities with five or more residential units.

We reached out to residents, property managers and owners, and garbage and recycling companies and heard some common challenges:

  • Not enough recycling and glass recycling service: Containers were overflowing or hard to reach. In some cases, glass recycling was not provided at all.
  • Confusing containers and labels: Different container colors and old or missing stickers and signs made it difficult to understand how to sort waste properly.

This work led to Metro’s updates to regionwide standards for garbage and recycling collection and education. These changes aim to create better, more equitable services for residents of apartments and multifamily communities.

These changes are a direct outcome of the 2030 Regional Waste Plan, which was adopted in March 2019 by Metro. The community-centered plan sets the policy direction for our entire region’s garbage and recycling system. It reflects the needs and ideas from members of our community who have not had a strong voice in the development of environmental plans, policies, or programs before.

Learn more about the regionwide updates.

Future improvements: Bulky waste

We heard from residents, property managers, and garbage and recycling companies that large, bulky waste – including sofas, chairs, appliances, and mattresses – is a common challenge at apartments and multifamily communities. They often clutter garbage areas and create safety issues.

We are developing and testing solutions to solve this problem and aim to make improvements in the future.