- 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.
- Talk with them about how often the compost container can be emptied. You’ll likely want it emptied at least twice a week, and before weekends. If you have a large office, it may need emptying every day.
- If you’re using bags, confirm that they have approved compostable bags to use.
Before you begin
Take the time to pay close attention to how much food is being thrown away.
- Since the goal of a composting program is to collect food – not food containers or paper towels – it is important to assess if your office generates enough food waste to justify setting up a program.
- Is it just lunch room food waste & coffee grounds? 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.
- Give Sustainability at Work a call if you’d like help (503-823-7037).
How to get started
- Set up composting service
- Decide who will empty your internal compost collection containers.
- Your janitorial company can likely do this. Talk to them as early in the process as possible to confirm how often they can empty your containers.
- Containers should be emptied every day, just like garbage, in order to keep the possibility of odors and fruit flies to a minimum.
- Alternatively, your property manager may want each building tenant to take their compost to the building’s main compost container.
- It’s often possible to offset the cost of composting collection cost 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 a lid are helpful for reducing potential odor issues. Swinging or foot-lever lids work well since they’re “hands free.”
- 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 the 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. Approved bags can be purchased locally or potentially through your janitorial company.
- Educate the workplace
- Let everyone in the office know when composting starts.
- A good place to start is by emailing 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 train your workplace. Contact us to learn more about training options.
Helpful information for your property manager (or you, if your workplace contracts directly with a garbage & 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 – size of container and frequency of pick-up – you will need. There is a service level – the size of your containers and number of times they’re emptied – for almost every situation.