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Sustainability at Work

Providing free tools and expertise to achieve your goals

Phone: 503-823-7037

Email: sustainabilityatwork@portlandoregon.gov

Composting: How, Why and FAQs

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Portland’s compost program for businesses

All businesses in Portland have the option to compost their food waste. Businesses can set up compost pick-up through their garbage and recycling company.

All food can go into Portland’s business composting, including: trimmings, plate scrapings, bones, shells, meat, fish, dairy, bread, pasta eggs, coffee grounds, and all vegetables and fruit. 

The only non-food items allowed are tea bags, coffee filters, and BPI-certified compostable bags.

*Note: Portland’s residential compost program accepts a few additional non-food items (napkins, paper towels and pizza boxes). 

Why composting is important

Your food scraps become biogas, which provides electricity for local homes and businesses. They’ll also become fertilizer, adding nutrients to soil at local farms and gardens. 

Resources and assistance

Sustainability at Work staff are here to help you set up composting and train employees. We offer free posters and stickers to label containers and resources to educate employees and customers.

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You can download posters, create your own or request printed posters and stickers.

Training videos: This three-minute video explains how to compost and recycle and how to safely lift heavy compost containers. Video is also available en español

Frequently Asked Questions

Are compostable bags okay?
Yes, but only if they are BPI-certified compostable

What about paper towels and food-soiled paper?
These items are not allowed in the new food scrap only system, as the processing facilities cannot effectively handle high volumes of non-food items.

Are any non-food items allowed?
Coffee filters, tea bags, and BPI-certified compostable bags are the only non-food items allowed. If you provide compost collection containers for staff or customers, we can help you update your signage to make it clear that only food is accepted.

If more than a trivial amount of non-food items – such as waxed or regular cardboard, compostable serviceware, flowers or other yard debris, paper towels and other paper – your compost will be sent to the landfill, and your garbage company may charge you for the additional cost.

*Note: Portland’s residential compost program accepts a few additional non-food items (napkins, paper towels and pizza boxes).

What’s the greenest disposable serviceware?
There’s no absolute best product, but weighing the pros and cons of different options will help you make an informed decision that’s right for you and your situation. One tip: look for products made with a high percentage of recycled content.

Reusable dishware - even if only offered to customers for on-site use – is the best environmental choice. Learn why, and how to make the switch.

Yard debris and paper are allowed in my green composting roll cart at home, so why aren’t they allowed here?
Compostable materials from homes go to a different facility than commercial food scraps. The facility processing residential food scraps is able to accept yard debris and limited paper products but is not permitted to process commercial materials. 

Do you expect to expand what is accepted in the future?
Metro has no plans to accept anything other than food scraps at this time.