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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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News and Tips on Garbage, Recycling, Composting and Reducing Waste at Home


Make a difference in the new year and learn how to recycle right

Use Recycle or Not to help answer your questions.

Because so many people in Portland recycle, together we are making an impact. However, trash in the recycling is causing problems here in Oregon and around the world.

recycle or not?Take a few minutes to learn what can and can’t go in your recycling bin:

  1. Ignore recycling symbols on items. These symbols do not mean you can recycle the item in Portland.
  2. Check the recycling guide. Be sure to follow Portland’s guide, since recycling can be very different in other places.
  3. If you’re not sure, put it in the trash. It may feel wrong, but you’re protecting the environment by keeping trash out of your recycling bin.

Some things are better in the trash

These items can jam the recycling sorting machines or are too difficult to make into new products:

  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic lids
  • Take-out containers
  • Envelopes with bubble wrap

Caution: Don’t put these in your bins

  • Batteries and things with batteries in them — like tools, watches, toys and “singing” cards — can start fires or explode in trash or recycling, so they should be dropped off for safe disposal.
  • Electronics like old laptops, computers and TVs must be dropped off for safe disposal (it’s state law).

There are lots of drop-off locations — find one near you www.oregonmetro.gov/findarecycler.

recycle or not Insta

Not sure? Send a pic!

Next time you aren’t sure about an item, send a photo to @recycleornot on Instagram. Or visit RecycleOrNot.org to see some of the most confusing items and find out where they belong. It’s new and made just for Portland-area residents. Para español, visite ReciclarONo.org o envíe una foto del artículo que usted quiere reciclar a @reciclarono en Instagram.

Play the game

Recycle or Not is also a game. Swipe right, swipe left in both English and Spanish.

A decade of sustainable improvements for garbage and recycling in Portland

Collection changes and community action help reduce waste and increase materials recovery.

Coordinating the recovery of glass, paper, plastic and metal for an entire city is no small feat: We partner with state and regional agencies like Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Metro to perform research and align on messages to educate the public. That’s a lot of committee meetings! We also spend a lot of time out in the community.

One of Portland’s many garbage driversDid you know that our bureau’s primary role is to oversee the administrative rules and rate process for Portland’s residential and commercial garbage and recycling companies? We have built good relationships with Portland’s nearly 30 franchised residential and permitted commercial garbage and recycling companies to administer rules that protect both the customer and the service provider. The following list highlights our achievements over the last decade related to the industry that the experts call “materials management.”

  1. Food scraps composting added to residential curbside collection in 2011.
  2. Plastic bag ban began in 2011.
  3. Housing deconstruction policy started in 2016 and has been updated for 2020.
  4. Clean Fleet on the Road for garbage and recycling trucks was improved in 2016.
  5. Business food scraps regional requirement passed in 2018.
  6. Single-use plastics reduction policy passed in 2019.
  7. The Master Recycler program graduated 870 people over the last decade; those graduates volunteered almost 41,000 hours and connected with over 4 million community members around the region.
  8. The 34th Fix-It Fair season is taking place in 2019-2020.

New year, new goals

Looking ahead to 2020, our solid waste and recycling team will work to advance these priorities:

  1. Emphasize recycling improvements at multifamily homes and communities.
  2. Implement business food scraps separation requirement for the largest businesses in the region.
  3. Work with DEQ and statewide stakeholders to modernize Oregon’s recycling system.
  4. Coordinate installation of truck side guards on garbage and recycling trucks for pedestrian and cyclist safety.

Winter garbage and recycling tips

Holiday schedule changes, how to set out your holiday tree, and what to do with extra holiday trash.

 

Snow or Ice

In case of bad weather, your pick-up may be delayed. Leave bins at the curb. Your garbage company will come as soon as they can.

Recycling, compost and garbage bins at the curb covered in snow

Holiday trees

After the holidays, remove all tree decorations before setting out for pick-up.

Remove trimmings from tree before setting out

You have two options for disposing of your holiday tree:

  1. Set out your whole tree (6-feet or shorter) for a $5 charge.
  2. Or cut your tree into pieces (3-feet or shorter), and place in your compost bin for no extra charge (make sure the lid closes). 

Set out whole tree or cut up and put in green bin

Note: Artificial trees and trees “flocked” with fake snow should be treated as garbage. Call your garbage company to see if there is a charge for pick-up.

Extra trash

Set out extra bags or cans (32 gal and 55 lbs max) for $5 each.

For large, bulky items that don’t fit into your garbage bin (like furniture or mattresses), call your garbage company for a cost estimate (prices vary). If the item is still in good condition, consider donating! Call 503-234-3000 to find out donation organizations, drop-off locations and pick-up options.

Extra trash set out, in bag or bin

Renters

If you rent a house or apartment, ask your property manager before setting out whole trees, extra garbage or bulky items.

Learn more

Read the full Winter 2019 Curbsider for more recycling tips and news.

Recycling doesn’t have to be a nightmare!

Be a fearless recycler.

Illustration of plastic items to look like ghosts

In Portland, the items you can recycle are the same whether you are at home or at work. When you recycle correctly, more materials will get remanufactured into new things.

Top 6 items to keep out of your recycling container —throw them in your garbage or better yet, don’t buy them in the first place!

    1. Plastic bags, plastic film and wrappers
    2. Paper and plastic drink cups, straws and coffee cups
    3. Frozen food boxes and trays
    4. To-go containers and “clamshells”
    5. Styrofoam™ blocks and foam peanuts
    6. Diapers, of course!

Learn what’s in and what’s out

Get a guide in multiple languages or contact the Curbside Hotline at 503-823-7202.

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Safely dispose of prescription drugs and documents on October 26

Make a stop at this community event to turn in unwanted documents for shredding or prescriptions.

Attend a prescription drug disposal and shred event in Portland on Saturday, October 26, 2019. Drive, walk or bike and drop off your unwanted or expired prescription drugs and sensitive documents. Drugs will be safely incinerated and documents will be securely shredded on site. The event runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., or earlier if the trucks fill to capacity. Location: 4735 E. Burnside Street in Portland.

What’s accepted at the prescription drug disposal event?

prescriptions acceptedTake this stuff: Prescription medications and samples, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, pet medications, medicated ointments, and liquid medication in leak-proof containers.

Don’t take this stuff: Thermometers, sharps, syringes, IV bags, bloody or infectious waste, hydrogen peroxide, aerosol cans, inhalers, EpiPens. To dispose of sharps, contact Metro at 503-234-3000 or through Find a Recycler.

What’s accepted at the shred event?

Take this stuff: Up to two grocery bags of documents.

Don’t take this stuff: Cardboard or three-ring binders.

Give back!

Sunshine Division barrels will be available for donations of canned food, dry pasta, and non-perishable food for needy families. Tax deduction forms will be provided.

Need to know exactly what to bring?paper shredding accepted

Check out the full list online.