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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

Tidying up? Put your unwanted stuff in the hands of those who need it.

Your stuff matters, including what you no longer want or need.

Woman with basket full of items to donate

The new year brings resolutions and goals about getting organized and staying that way. If you are clearing clutter and are ready to part with items – from clothes, books and music to household goods, electronics and décor – then go local and donate usable items to Portland neighbors and organizations. These online tools make it easy for you to reuse, borrow and share stuff you longer want or need.

Many groups and organizations are free and offer Portland-area residents simple ways to move useful materials through the community and into the hands of others who need them.

Freecycle is a grassroots movement committed to a sharing economy and helping people give and gain cool free stuff. It promotes reuse and keeping usable items out of landfills.

Paying it Forward Store
The Paying it Forward Store helps those in immediate need of clothing, coats and shoes and connects to other like-minded organizations by collecting and distributing donated items.

Rooster is a community of neighbors who share resources at no cost. It’s about borrowing things you need — and making rewarding connections in your community. Learn more about Rooster.

Nextdoor is a tool for getting helpful recommendations and resources from neighbors in addition to borrowing, donating or selling items.  

Buy Nothing Project
Buy Nothing Project members post anything you’d like to give away, lend or share. It is neighborhood- and Facebook-based, focused on items you’d like to borrow or acquire, at no cost, from neighbors.

Other resources:

Have unusable bulky items?

Your garbage and recycling company can remove large items that are not reusable or recyclable for an extra charge. Call your company a week in advance and they will give you a cost estimate. For a reasonable charge, they will pick up appliances, furniture, large branches, stumps and other big items. For curbside pickup, set bulky items at your curb on the day your garbage and recycling company has agreed to pick them up.

Disclaimer: Neither BPS nor any of its partners endorse a business, company or any organization through the Curbsider Blog. Read the full disclaimer.

The holiday aftermath: How to get rid of cut holiday trees and extra garbage

Holidays cause extra disposal chores and unusual items for the garbage.

Tree options

  • On collection day, put trees that are 6 feet and under at the curb for a $5 fee. Trees over 6 feet should be cut in half.
  • Or cut the trunk and branches into pieces less than 36 inches long and 4 inches in diameter and put directly in compost carts. Just ensure that any tree pieces do not poke out of the cart.
  • Or breakdown tree and put in kraft paper bags or bundle (tied securely with string or twine) at the curb on your collection day for a pick-up fee of $3.75 each.

Remember: Prepare your tree for pick-up by removing all tinsel, lights, ornaments, wire, nails, stands and other materials that cannot be composted. Trees covered in fake snow (“flocked”) are not accepted as compost and must be disposed of as garbage.

Put trees next to your green compost roll cart at the curb on collection day for a fee.

Extra garbage options

Set out an extra garbage can or bag on your collection day for a $5 fee during the holidays or anytime. Extra garbage must be 32 gallons or smaller and weigh 55 pounds or less

Do you have items too big for your garbage container? Contact your garbage and recycling company for a bulky waste collection cost estimate.

Renters: Talk to the property manager if you need to set out bulky items or extra garbage.

Want to get a tree pick-up?

Contact Metro online or call 503-234-3000 to find tree drop-off locations or to arrange a pick-up by a nonprofit organization for a fee.

Spotlight on holiday waste

Each cart plays a part: Put materials in the correct containers after the holidays.

compostQ: How do I dispose of food scraps from preparing my holiday meal — and what about fruitcake?
A: Food scraps, old leftovers and even that fruitcake can be added directly to your green composting roll cart. Old cooking oil from the turkey fryer should go in a container with a tight seal and placed inside the garbage cart.                                

Q: What should I to do with all this holiday wrapping paper?
A: Place paper items in the blue recycling roll cart — cardboard and gift boxes, wrapping and tissue paper, catalogs, greeting cards and envelopes. Bows, ribbon and foil-lined items belong in the garbage.

Q: My holiday party includes lots of one-time use items. Can I recycle or compost them?garbage
A: Any disposable items, from plastic ware to paper plates, go in your garbage container. Even products labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable” don’t belong in your recycling or composting roll carts. Use reusable items for your next get-together instead.

garbageQ: What do I do with paper items from my holiday baking?
A: Items like parchment paper and wrappers and liners from cupcakes go in the garbage. Besides yard debris, the only non-food items accepted in the green composting roll cart are paper napkins, paper towels, coffee filters, tea bags and pizza delivery boxes.

Q: One of my holiday gifts is a new computer tablet! What should I do with my old computer?
A: If your old one still works, donate it! Oregon E-Cycles offers free recycling options. Electronics do not belong in your roll carts.

Q: How do I dispose of old batteries?
A: Collect batteries and dispose of them at a local recycling depot or hazardous waste facility. They should never be put in any curbside roll carts.

Q: Can I recycle broken strings of lights?
A: Broken lights do not belong in your blue recycling roll cart. Put them in the garbage or recycle them at a local depot. Contact Metro online or at 503-234-3000 to find a location.

Have a question for our Curbside Hotline Operator?
Submit your question online or call 503-823-7202.

Holidays may affect your collection day for garbage, recycling and composting

Sign up for weekly email reminders about your garbage, recycling and compost collection and urgent winter weather alerts.

Changes to collection schedule December 25 – January 5

All garbage, recycling and compost collection in Portland will happen one day later than usual from December 25, 2018 to January 5, 2019. Monday customers will have regular pick-up on December 24 and December 31, 2018.

Leave carts at the curb if snow piles up

Extreme winter weather in Portland may delay collection of your garbage, recycling and composting roll carts. Leave your carts at the curb when snow and ice arrive, and your garbage and recycling company will collect them as soon as driving conditions permit.

Visit to sign up for weekly email reminders that include winter weather collection alerts when necessary. Customers without email can always call 503-823-7202 or their garbage and recycling company.

Find holiday schedule change information online--including translated messages into 10 languages--at

Recycle with confidence: Learn how to sort your plastics

Portland doesn’t sort plastics by the numbers on the bottom – learn shapes and sizes instead!

Choose the following plastic items for your home recycling:

  • Plastic bottles with a neck (6 ounces or larger)
  • Plastic tubs (6 ounces or larger)
  • Plant pots (4 inches or larger)
  • Buckets (5 gallons or smaller)

Before you throw them in the recycling containers, rinse them out and toss the lids into the garbage.

Sorting your plastics is easy with this guide.


Sometimes it’s because the items are too small (think lids), making them too hard to sort out from paper, cardboard and other recyclables.

Other times it’s because the global market for a plastic change too frequently (to-go containers, for example). Recycling only works if it makes financial sense for companies to buy the used plastics to turn into new plastics.

What about the numbers on the bottom of plastics?

Ignore the numbers. The numbers on the bottom of plastics refers to the materials they are made from and play no role in what is recyclable in Portland.

Just think size and shape. The allowed plastics – bottles, tubs, buckets and jugs – are the right shapes to get successfully sorted, and they’re the types of plastic that recycling companies want to buy.

Is there any way to recycle these extra plastics?

Yes, for some items. Plastics bags and wrappers can go back to grocery stores. Block Styrofoam can go to Agilyx, a company that has a drop off center.

Ask Metro about items not accepted with your home recycling by calling 503-234-3000 or online at Find a Recycler.

What about plastics labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable?”

Never put plastics labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable” into any recycling container. These “plastics” are made to break down quickly and will contaminate the plastics recycling process and reduce the quality of goods produced from the recycled materials.

Check out Metro’s story and video about recycling and turning what you toss into something new.