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Planning and Sustainability

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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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Portland Composts!

Be Cart Smart: Mix food scraps and yard debris together in your green Portland Composts! roll cart. Composting yard debris and food scraps reduces waste and creates nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Green compost roll cart information and instructions

  • Yard debris and food scraps are picked up weekly
  • Set out your roll cart for pickup every week – even if it's not full
  • Weight limit is 135 lbs
  • Do not pack tightly – contents must fall freely from the roll cart
  • Remove empty containers from curb within 24 hours

Three simple steps for food scrap collection

  1. Place your kitchen compost container in a convenient location in your kitchen. You can line your container with approved liners.
  2. Include the food! Collect food scraps while preparing meals, scraping plates and cleaning the fridge of leftovers - every little bit counts. 
  3. Empty your kitchen container, including the liner, into your green Portland Composts! roll cart as frequently as you like. Place your green roll cart out for weekly pickup.
YES — put these items in your green compost roll cart

food scrap items


green cart icon

Food scraps

  • meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, bones
  • eggs and eggshells, cheese, dairy products
  • bread, baked goods, pasta, rice, beans, nuts, seeds
  • coffee grounds, filters, tea bags
  • vegetables and fruit
  • paper napkins and paper towels
  • pizza delivery boxes
  • table scraps, plate scrapings, leftovers, spoiled food
Yard DebrisPumpkin

Yard debris

  • weeds, leaves, vines, grass
  • small branches (less than 4 in thick and 36 in long)
  • flowers
  • house plants
  • plant clippings
  • pumpkins  

NO – keep these items out of your compost roll cart

  • plastic and produce bags
  • non-approved compostable plastic bags
  • compostable plastic takeout containers and utensils
  • paper plates, cups and cartons
  • coffee cups
  • fast food wrappers, packaging, takeout containers and waxed paper
  • facial tissue
  • pet waste
  • cat litter
  • animal bedding (including straw and chicken manure)
  • animal carcasses from hunting and fishing waste
  • large amounts of grease, cooking oil and liquid
  • fireplace ashes
  • dirt, rocks, sod
  • lumber, treated wood, sawdust, stumps
  • large branches (more than 4 in thick or 36 in long)
  • Styrofoam™, metal and glass
  • corks
  • diapers (including those labelled "compostable" or "biodegradable")
  • textiles, clothing, linens, shoes
  • household garbage

Even if a plastic product says “compostable,” please leave it out.

Tips for your green roll cart

  • Use an optional liner in your kitchen container. You can contain food in an approved compostable bag, newspaper or a paper bag to keep your food scraps from touching the inside of your green roll cart.
  • Line the bottom of your green cart with newspaper, a paper bag or a pizza delivery box to help absorb moisture.
  • Layer food scraps in between yard debris to reduce odors and to contain messier foods.
  • Sprinkle baking soda in your garbage and compost carts to reduce odors and deter insects.
  • Store your cart in the shade in warm weather.
  • Use soap and water to clean the green roll cart. Pour dirty water onto grass or gravel, not down the storm drain.
  • Get your green roll cart cleaned for $12.25. Contact your garbage and recycling company to request this service.

Want some guidance?

Check out these three short videos to learn composting basics, explore kitchen container liner options and get tips on caring for your kitchen compost container and green Portland Composts! roll cart.

Kitchen compost container

Did you know you can collect food scraps in a variety of containers? 

To collect food scraps in your kitchen, you can try one of these items you may already have in your household:

  • Empty yogurt container and lid
  • "Tupperware" type container
  • Kitty litter pail or other lidded pail/bucket
  • Anything with a snug fitting lid that will fit under your sink or on your kitchen counter.
  • Metro sells the Sure Close kitchen scrap container for $8. Call 503-234-3000 for details.

Tips for your kitchen container:

  • Store your kitchen container under the sink or on the counter so it is easy to access.
  • Line it with newspaper, paper bags or approved compostable bags.
  • Frequently empty the contents – including the liner – into your green Portland Composts! roll cart. The more often you empty your container, the less time food scraps spend in your kitchen.

Tips for messy, stinky or wet food scraps:

  • Drain as much liquid as possible from food before putting in your container.
  • Wrap the food in newspaper and then place in your container.
  • Place food scraps in a container in the freezer and add them to the green roll cart the night before your pickup.
  • Empty and rinse out your container frequently, and sprinkle baking soda in it or rub vinegar on the inside of the lid to avoid odors and fruit flies.
  • Do not set your kitchen container out at the curb.

Optional kitchen container liners:

  • Newspaper      
  • Paper bags      
  • Approved compostable bags*

*Look for these approved products:

  • BioBag -- "Certified Compostable"
  • EcNow Tech -- "Compost Me"
  • EcoSafe -- "6400 Line"
  • Glad -- "Compostable Kitchen"
  • Natur-Tec -- "Natur-Bag Compostable"

Note: These approved compostable bags are designed to break down quickly and safely at composting facilities. Other compostable bags and regular plastic bags are NOT allowed.

Local stores that carry approved compostable bags (availability varies):

  • Alberta Cooperative Grocery
  • Barbur World Foods
  • Costco
  • Earth Centric
  • Food Fight Grocery
  • Food Front Cooperative Grocery
  • Fred Meyer
  • Lamb’s
  • Lillian’s Central Market
  • Market of Choice
  • Mirador Community Store
  • New Seasons Market
  • Pearl Hardware
  • People’s Food Co-op
  • QFC
  • Safeway
  • Sheridan Fruit Company
  • Target
  • Walgreens
  • Whole Foods
  • Woodstock Hardware

Composting facilities

Yard debris and food scraps go to Oregon commercial composting facilities with specialized processes to quickly break down the organic matter - even meat scraps and bones. Compost from these businesses is sold to landscapers and other agricultural users and available to residents.

Extra yard debris 

Green compost roll carts must be used first so drivers know to stop for collection. Additional yard debris cans, Kraft bags, or bundles should be placed near the roll cart. You will be charged $3.75 for each one you put out for collection. Extra yard debris can also be saved for your next pick up or taken to a compost facility. To use an extra can, bag or bundle:

32-Gallon Can

  • Weight limit: 55 lbs
  • Label can with yard debris sticker

30-Gallon Kraft Paper Bag (no plastic bags)

  • Weight limit: 45 lbs
  • Use a 30-gallon brown Kraft two-ply yard debris paper bag that you can buy at your local grocery or hardware store. These bags compost with the yard debris
  • Because Kraft bags are made from paper, avoid putting wet debris in the bottom of the bag
  • Keep in a dry place until pickup day to prevent the bottom from falling out


  • Weight limit: 45 lbs
  • Bundles must be tied securely with string or twine. Do not tie with wire
  • Branches can not exceed 36 inches in length and 4 inches in diameter

Backyard composting

Composting turns your yard trimmings and vegetable scraps into a nutrient-rich soil amendment for your yard and garden. When used as mulch, compost will reduce your need to water. Use it to enhance the soil, make a potting mixture, or mulch around plants and shrubs. You can make your own compost bin, purchase one at your local garden center or from Metro at reduced rates. 

Yard debris reduction tips

Grow a healthy lawn and garden and reduce your yard waste by grasscycling. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn after you mow reduces clean-up time and the need for fertilizer. Clippings decompose and send valuable nutrients back to the soil.

Mow frequently (every five to six days). Set your mower to cut at the recommended height for your type of lawn. Never shorten the grass by more than one-third.

Learn more about how to manage pests, diseases and weeds in your garden without using pesticides.

Large amounts of yard debris

If have a large amount of yard debris to dispose of, you can take the material to a yard debris processor or order a yard debris only drop box.

Containers less than 3 cubic yards must be ordered from your garbage and recycling company.

Drop boxes larger than 3 cubic yards can be provided by your garbage and recycling company or any permitted company or drop box company.

Be sure to tell them the container is for yard debris only. There are specific weight limits for each container size and restrictions on the yard debris materials that can be placed in them. Be sure to get all the information and price quotes before delivery. Garbage or other restricted materials are not allowed in the drop box. You will incur additional charges if the container has to be taken to the transfer station for landfill disposal.

Contact Metro Recycling Information at 503-234-3000 to learn more about backyard composting and grasscycling or to request a free guide to home composting.