Residential compost tips

How to collect food scraps and yard debris, use optional liners, find tips and resources.
On this page

Curbside composting basics

  • Yard debris and food scraps are picked up weekly.
  • Set out your roll cart for pickup every week – even if it's not full.
  • Do not pack tightly; contents must fall freely from the roll cart.
  • Weight limit is 135 lbs.
  • Containers at the curb by 6 a.m. Empty containers should be removed from curb within 24 hours.
  • Do not set your kitchen compost container out at the curb.
  • Put only food scraps, yard debris, approved food-soiled paper and approved pail liners into your green Portland Composts! roll cart.

What goes in your compost bin

Kitchen compost containers

While neither the City of Portland nor your garbage and recycling company provide kitchen pails, just about any container with a lid will work for collecting your food scraps. The key is to choose a size and location that makes it easy to use, to empty (into the green composting roll cart), and to keep clean. Metro sells the Sure Close kitchen composter for $8. Call 503-234-3000 for details.

Bin liners: Lining your kitchen compost container with paper, paper bags or BPI-certified compostable bags can make it easier to keep clean. If using bags, the 2-3 gallon size should fit countertop containers.

Tips for food scrap collection

  • View videos on how to collect and compost food scraps, and how to keep containers clean.

  • Drain as much liquid as possible from food before putting in your container.

  • Wrap the food in newspaper and then place in your container.

  • Place food scraps in a container in the freezer and add them to the green roll cart the night before your pickup.

  • Empty and rinse out your container frequently, and sprinkle baking soda in it or rub vinegar on the inside of the lid to avoid odors and fruit flies.

  • Layer food scraps in between yard debris to reduce odors and to contain messier foods.

  • Store your cart in the shade in warm weather.

  • Use soap and water to clean the green roll cart. Pour dirty water onto grass or gravel, not down the storm drain.

  • Get your green roll cart cleaned for $14.45. Contact your garbage and recycling company to request this service.

Extra yard debris

Green compost roll carts must be used first so drivers know to stop for collection. Additional yard debris cans, Kraft bags, or bundles should be placed near the roll cart. You will be charged $3.75 for each one you put out for collection. Extra yard debris can also be saved for your next pick up or taken to a compost facility. To use an extra can, bag or bundle:

  • 32-Gallon Can
    • Weight limit is 55 lbs.
    • Label can with Yard Debris Only sticker.
  • 30-Gallon Kraft Paper Bag (no plastic bags)
    • Weight limit is 45 lbs.
    • Use a 30-gallon brown Kraft two-ply yard debris paper bag that you can buy at your local grocery or hardware store. These bags compost with the yard debris.
    • Because Kraft bags are made from paper, avoid putting wet debris in the bottom of the bag.
    • Keep in a dry place until pickup day to prevent the bottom from falling out.
  • Bundles
    • Weight limit is 45 lbs.
    • Bundles must be tied securely with string or twine. Do not use wire.
    • Branches cannot exceed 36 inches in length and 4 inches in diameter.

Large amounts of yard debris

If you have a large amount of yard debris to dispose of, you can take the material to a yard debris processor or order a yard debris only drop box. Containers less than 3 cubic yards must be ordered from your garbage and recycling company.

Drop boxes larger than 3 cubic yards can be provided by your garbage and recycling company or any permitted company or drop box company.

Be sure to tell them the container is for yard debris only. There are specific weight limits for each container size and restrictions on the yard debris materials that can be placed in them. Be sure to get all the information and price quotes before delivery. Garbage or other restricted materials are not allowed in the drop box. You will incur additional charges if the container has to be taken to the transfer station for landfill disposal.

Yard debris reduction tips

Grow a healthy lawn and garden and reduce your yard waste by grasscycling. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn after you mow reduces clean-up time and the need for fertilizer. Clippings decompose and send valuable nutrients back to the soil.

Mow frequently (every five to six days). Set your mower to cut at the recommended height for your type of lawn. Never shorten the grass by more than one-third.

Learn more about how to manage pests, diseases and weeds in your garden without using pesticides.

Composting facilities

Yard debris and food scraps go to Oregon commercial composting facilities with specialized processes to quickly break down the organic matter - even meat scraps and bones. Compost from these businesses is sold to landscapers and other agricultural users and available to residents.

Backyard composting

Composting turns your yard trimmings and vegetable scraps into a nutrient-rich soil amendment for your yard and garden. When used as mulch, compost will reduce your need to water. Use it to enhance the soil, make a potting mixture, or mulch around plants and shrubs.

Reminders and tips

News and notices