Holiday garbage and recycling tips

News Article
An illustration showing a christmas tree with all of the decorations removed
How to set out your holiday tree, tips for sorting common holiday waste, how to set out extra trash, and what to do in case of snow and ice.
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Holiday tree disposal

How to set out your Christmas tree for compost pick up

For real trees, first remove all trimmings from your tree, including lights, ornaments, tinsel, and tree stand.

Then you have two options:

  1. Set out your whole tree (6 feet or shorter), next to your compost bin, for a $5.25 charge.
  2. Cut your tree into pieces (3 feet or shorter), and place in your compost bin for no extra charge. Make sure the lid closes.

Artificial trees and trees “flocked” with fake snow are considered garbage. To set out a whole artificial or flocked tree, call your garbage company for a cost estimate.

Extra trash

If you end up with more trash than usual over the holidays, you can set out extra bags or cans (32 gal and 55 lbs max) for $5.15 each.

For large, bulky items that don’t fit into your garbage bin (like furniture or mattresses), call your garbage company for a cost estimate (prices vary). If the item is still in good condition, consider donating it: Call 503-234-3000 to find donation organizations, drop-off locations, and pick-up options.


If you rent a house or apartment, ask the property manager before setting out whole trees, extra garbage, or bulky items.

How to sort holiday waste

Next to a garbage can icons is shown: a plastic padded mailing envelope, holiday string lights, and plastic gift cards. Next to a recycling icon is shown: a cardboard box, wrapping paper, and paper holiday cards. next to a compost icon (leaf and apple core) is shown: A snowflake shaped frosted cookie, a fruitcake, an orange gourd, a pinecone, a few holly leaves, and a pine tree branch.

Unsure about which bin to put things in? Here's a quick guide:


  • Envelopes with plastic padding (even if the outside is paper).
  • Bubble wrap, plastic “air pillows,” and packing peanuts.
  • Plastic gift cards and any plastic not shaped like a bottle or round tub.
  • String lights, ribbon, yarn, and cords – these are called “tanglers” because they get tangled in the machines that sort recyclables and cause the whole process to shut down.


  • Cardboard boxes (ok to leave tape and labels on)
  • Paper gift wrap (foil or glitter-covered wrapping paper belongs in the garbage)


  • Include the food: Plate scraping, cooking scraps, and food that’s gone spoiled or moldy can all go in.
  • Holiday trees, wreaths, and greenery, as long as all decorations, wire, etc., have been removed first. (Fake or “flocked” trees or greenery should go in the garbage.)

Learn more from Metro: Can I recycle this? Holiday Cleanup 101.

Reduce and reuse before you recycle

Getting rid of holiday decorations or gifts you don’t love? Donate them to one of Portland’s many non-profit thrift stores or offer them for free to neighbors via Nextdoor, Buy Nothing Group, or Craigslist.

Looking for gifts, holiday decorations, or an additional chair to host friends and family this year? Shop at one of Portland’s many local thrift shops for great finds and low prices.

No delays over holidays

Because Christmas and New Year’s Day are on Sunday this year, your garbage, recycling, and compost pickup will happen on regularly scheduled days through the holidays.

Never miss a pick-up: Sign up for garbage day reminder emails

Weather delays

A blue recycling cart, green compost cart, and gray trash cart are shown covered in snow. A snowman appears next to them, instructing people to "Leave bins at the curb" in case of snow or ice.

In case of snow or ice, leave your bins at the curb. Your garbage company will come as soon as they can.

During extreme weather, find the most up-to-date information about delays or other changes to garbage service on our winter weather page.