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Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

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Successful food scrap composting in winter? Learn how fellow Portlanders make it work

Portlanders are doing a great job adapting to the new Curbside Collection Service with food scrap composting and the change to weekly pick up of the green Portland Composts! roll cart and every-other-week garbage collection. Weekly composting keeps food scraps out of the landfill and turns them into a valuable new products to create healthy soil to help grow more food.

Just like when Portlanders first started curbside recycling, it takes time to create and establish new food scrap collection routines for your household. Residents in a year-long pilot program found that after a little practice, they were able to make the system work and reported high rates of satisfaction. Tips and tricks have been compiled from residents, as well as other cities, about how to make composting easy and successful — even in the cold winter months when your household may generate more food scraps than yard debris.  

Check out these tips to make composting easier during the winter months when yard debris may be scarce. 

  • Set your green roll cart out for pickup every single week — even if it’s not full. The food may not look like a lot in the big green Portland Composts! roll cart, but it really adds up when every Portlander participates.

  • Consider saving some of the last fall leaves to line your cart throughout the winter. If you don’t have leftover yard debris, you can still keep the bottom of your cart clean by lining it with a few sheets of newspaper, a paper bag or a take-out pizza box.

  • Lining your kitchen compost pail will also help keep your green cart clean. You can tie off approved compostable kitchen pail bags to keep your food scraps from touching the inside of your green roll cart. Check out the list of approved compostable pail liners here.

  • Empty the contents of your kitchen compost pail, including the compostable liner, into your green Portland Composts! roll cart frequently.  The more often you empty your kitchen pail, the less time food scraps spend in your kitchen.

  • When it is not freezing, give your green cart a rinse with non-toxic soap and water. Pour dirty water onto grass or gravel, not down the storm drain.  See how it’s done by watching our instructional videos. Try sprinkling a little baking soda in your clean cart to avoid odors.

Fellow Portlanders share tips about what to do when you have messy, stinky or wet food scraps

“I wrap messy food in newspaper and then place in the pail,” said Montavilla resident Megan Tiede. “The newspaper can be composted along with the food scraps. And even better – it’s free!”

“Rather than putting stinky food scraps, like meat and bones, into my kitchen compost pail, I add them to an old yogurt container I keep in my freezer,” recommends Rebecca Raymond, resident of the Overlook neighborhood. “Then I empty them directly into my green composting roll cart the night before my pickup day!”

“I drain as much liquid as possible from food before putting it in my kitchen compost pail,” suggests George Patterson, resident of the Humboldt neighborhood. “So if my kids have leftover cereal, I drain off the milk before adding it to the pail.”

How have you made food scrap composting successful in your household? Share your tips, ask questions and learn from other Portland residents on our Facebook page or contact us:

1. Online:
2. Hotline: 503-823-7202
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