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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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Recycle right when school starts and routines resume

Muhumed Noor, SummerWorks intern at Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS), offers his insights on going back to school and how one of his chores includes collecting the garbage and recycling at home.

“While I have finished high school and am now taking classes at Mt Hood Community College, I still live at home and am expected to help out with chores. I live in an apartment with my little sister and my dad, and I am responsible for taking out the garbage and recycling. This became one of my chores because my dad saw my messy room and told me to clean it up. My room had stuff spread out all over it, like clothes and shoes, water bottles, papers and a little garbage on floor.

When I cleaned my room, I started by collecting everything together to put in one place (the garbage), but realized that many of the items can be recycled or even reused.

Back in Kenya, where I used to live, people don’t know about sorting things for garbage or recycling. There was one place to put whatever came their way. Since working at BPS this summer, I have had a chance to learn many aspects of sustainability, including more about garbage and recycling. I have come to understand what materials go in which containers and why it matters to sort out items that can be recycled.”

Get the right materials in the right place

Whether you’re a renter or live in your own home, the same materials are accepted for recycling in Portland. It is the system itself that varies, based on residential or multifamily services.

Much of the activity related to recycling happens in our kitchens, family rooms, home offices, bedrooms and bathrooms. Increase the chance that things get in the right container by creating easy strategies throughout the house. One principal to good recycling is to provide a recycling container everywhere where there is a garbage can.


Items may get tossed in the garbage that could be recycled if you only have one container and no one committed to take care of the waste. If you only have a recycling container in one place, garbage might end up in your recycling. Check the two containers to ensure that waste materials are in the right one before emptying out into the roll carts or containers. People often make decisions about where to throw things away by looking into the container and seeing what is already there rather than reading signs or asking questions. One person’s mistake can quickly become a household or multifamily community norm.Mix paper, plastic and metal together. Keep glass bottles and jars in a separate area inside the home before taking them out to the bin or container for glass only.

Do you live in an apartment and want information on garbage and recycling? Find information online about multifamily communities of five units and more.

Do you live in a house or smallplex (2-4 units) and want a detailed list of what goes in your curbside containers?  Find information online or download a guide in 10 languages.