2030 Objective: Recover 90 percent of waste from City operations by 2030
Recycling and composting, the most basic of all sustainable operations, have been available in City facilities for decades. In FY 16-17, the City’s waste recovery rate was 77 percent. The City has achieved this by continuing to find new recycling streams for items besides office waste, such as street lamps, hard hats and asphalt paint.
Achieving 90 percent waste recovery is an ambitious goal. In order to meet it, the City will have to find ways to recycle materials that currently don’t have a clear recycling pathway, like plastic pipe and worn uniforms.
Waste recovery from City operations
There’s no silver bullet for achieving a 90 percent recovery rate. Success requires projects that focus at the work site level and on specific materials.
For example, this past year, the Bureau of Technology Services donated over 500 computers and 400 laptops to Free Geek. Most city facilities promote and maintain lunch food scrap composting stations resulting in a reduction of over 300,000 pounds of garbage annually. On a larger scale, the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Sunderland Yard composts and recycles over 30,000 cubic yards of leaf material every year (approximately 400 semi-truck loads).
The City of Portland’s sustainability business assistance program, Sustainability at Work, certifies workplaces for comprehensively tackling sustainability including energy and water efficiency, low carbon transportation, and recycling and composting. Portland’s Fire and Rescue leads all other bureaus with the most number of locations certified – a total of 31 in all.
Every year BPS sponsors a time for bureau representatives to meet with the current waste hauling contractor. During this meeting, the contractor provides advice on how to recover additional recycling. In addition, each bureau recommits to waste recovery efforts. Most recently, bureaus committed to expanding their “waste sorts” to include 20 of the largest dumpsters. The majority of these dumpsters collect garbage. By knowing what’s in them the City can better determine whether new diversion opportunities exist.