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Set up a waste collection system that works for your household

Recycling collection systemHere’s a time-tested question: Who’s in charge of taking out the garbage in your household? Does this job also involve the recycling and composting containers inside your home?

Make recycling as easy as throwing away

Much of the activity related to recycling and composting doesn’t happen at the curb. It happens in our kitchens, family rooms, home offices, bedrooms and bathrooms. Strategies that create easy ways to separate waste right where it’s generated in the house will increase the chance that things get to the right container out at the curb.

Walk through your home and ask yourself if it is as easy to recycle in each room as it is to throw things away? Are there certain recyclable items that are getting thrown away in some rooms but not others?

One principal to good recycling is to provide a recycling container everywhere where there is a garbage can.

Even in the most motivated households, if you only have a garbage can in place, items that could be recycled may get tossed in the garbage. If you only have a recycling container in place, garbage might end up in your recycling.

Do a quick system check

It is also important to periodically check the two containers to ensure that waste materials are in the right one. People often make decisions about where to throw things away by looking into the container and seeing what is already there rather than reading signs or asking questions. One person’s mistake can quickly become a household norm.

Composting is easy, too

When it comes to composting, food scraps are mainly in the kitchen, so find and use a kitchen compost container that you like and place it where it works best for your household. When choosing a container, consider where you will keep it, whether you’ll use optional kitchen container liners, how often you fill your container, and how you will keep it fresh and clean. 

It is important to also create a space in your kitchen or another agreed upon area where all materials can be collected before being taken to the curb and emptied into their individual containers outside. If you want to collect non-curbside materials, like miscellaneous plastics (bags, caps, lids, Styrofoam), determine a place to put these items aside to deliver to a recycling depot.

Whether you are new to Portland, a longtime resident or often host out-of-town guests, use the start of the new year to get the right materials in the right place.

Want a detailed list of what goes in – or must stay out – of your curbside containers?
Find information online or download a guide in 10 languages. And remember if an item is not on the “yes” recycling or composting list, the best place for it is in the garbage.

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