Composting for Offices
- Make compost as convenient as garbage and recycling. Ideally, containers are paired together in a waste station (recycling, garbage and compost).
- Label all composting containers. Order free posters and stickers.
- Train staff. Sustainability at Work offers employee training and presentations.
- Communicate with your janitorial service.
- Discuss how often the compost container can be emptied. Consider emptying twice during the week and before weekends. Large offices may need daily service.
- If you choose to use bags, confirm that your janitorial service has BPI-certified compostable bags.
Before you begin
Take the time to pay close attention to how much food is being thrown away.
- It is important to assess if your office generates enough food waste to justify setting up a program.
- Do you have regular catered events?
- If your workplace has less than 20 people, you may need to get others in your building to participate.
- For assistance, call Sustainability at Work (503-823-7037).
How to get started
- Set up composting service
- Work with your property manager to request compost service from a garbage and recycling company.
- See the Property Manager section at the bottom of the page for helpful information for your property manager (or you, if your workplace contracts directly with a garbage and recycling company).
- Decide who will empty your internal compost collection containers.
- Your janitorial company can likely do this. Talk to them as early in the process and confirm how often they can empty your containers.
- Containers should be emptied every day, just like garbage. This keeps odors and fruit flies to a minimum.
- Your property manager may want each building tenant to take their compost to the building’s main compost container.
- The cost of composting collection cost can often be offset by consolidating garbage cans and reducing the time janitorial staff spends on garbage collection.
- Set up break rooms
- Many different styles of containers are suitable for food scrap collection. Containers with lids are helpful for reducing odor issues. Swinging or foot-lever lids offer a “hands free” option.”
- Color code containers: green for compost, blue for recycling, and black, gray or brown for garbage.
- Containers should be conveniently located next to the garbage and be well-labeled. Order free posters and full-color photo stickers.
- Using compostable bags to line your containers is not required, but is essential unless your staff are able to wash out the containers at least weekly.
- The City has approved specific bags for the composting program. These BPI-certified compostable bags can be purchased locally or potentially through your janitorial company.
- Educate the workplace
- Let everyone in the office know when you are starting a composting program.
- A good first step is to email an electronic version of the composting poster to the group.
- Follow up with a short presentation at staff meetings to go over the poster with them.
- Sustainability at Work advisors are available to help. Contact us to learn more about training your staff.
Information for your property manager or whomever contracts directly with a garbage and recycling company.
- Composting service for office spaces is often shared by multiple tenants in one building.
- Estimating your service needs and cost will require a conversation with all the potential participants, to determine how much food waste will be produced on a weekly basis. The property manager can facilitate this conversation with tenants and the garbage and recycling company.
- The City of Portland does not set garbage, recycling, or composting rates – businesses choose a garbage and recycling company to work with and negotiate the type and cost of service directly with the company.
- Businesses often find it helpful to request bids for the proposed composting service from their own garbage and recycling company, as well as a few others doing business in Portland.
- Garbage and recycling companies can help you estimate what service level – the size of your containers and number of times they're emptied – you will need. There is a service level for almost every situation.