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A decade of sustainable improvements for garbage and recycling in Portland

News article

Collection changes and community action help reduce waste and increase materials recovery.


Coordinating the recovery of glass, paper, plastic and metal for an entire city is no small feat: We partner with state and regional agencies like Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Metro to perform research and align on messages to educate the public. That’s a lot of committee meetings! We also spend a lot of time out in the community.

A garbage truck driver in a yellow shirt, standing in front of their truck

Did you know that our bureau’s primary role is to oversee the administrative rules and rate process for Portland’s residential and commercial garbage and recycling companies? We have built good relationships with Portland’s nearly 30 franchised residential and permitted commercial garbage and recycling companies to administer rules that protect both the customer and the service provider. The following list highlights our achievements over the last decade related to the industry that the experts call “materials management.”

  1. Food scraps composting added to residential curbside collection in 2011.
  2. Plastic bag ban began in 2011.
  3. Housing deconstruction policy started in 2016 and has been updated for 2020.
  4. Clean Fleet on the Road for garbage and recycling trucks was improved in 2016.
  5. Business food scraps regional requirement passed in 2018.
  6. Single-use plastics reduction policy passed in 2019.
  7. The Master Recycler program graduated 870 people over the last decade; those graduates volunteered almost 41,000 hours and connected with over 4 million community members around the region.
  8. The 34th Fix-It Fair season is taking place in 2019-2020.

New year, new goals

Looking ahead to 2020, our solid waste and recycling team will work to advance these priorities:

  1. Emphasize recycling improvements at multifamily homes and communities.
  2. Implement business food scraps separation requirement for the largest businesses in the region.
  3. Work with DEQ and statewide stakeholders to modernize Oregon’s recycling system.
  4. Coordinate installation of truck side guards on garbage and recycling trucks for pedestrian and cyclist safety.