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East Portland Food Businesses Provide Feedback on Food Scrap Collection

Restaurant owner in entry in front of menusBy 2025, many of Portland’s restaurants, grocery stores and other food businesses will need to start separating food scraps from trash for collection. This is part of a 5-year region-wide plan that applies to all food businesses that throw away more than 250 lbs of food scraps per week.

BPS wants to make it easier for all businesses to participate, most especially those unaware of composting collection or who have staff with limited English proficiency.

To learn more about businesses’ needs and to test program materials, BPS conducted a test project with eight restaurants and one grocery store in East Portland to start collecting food scraps and share their experiences with setting up and using the service.

How it worked:

  • Employee holding food scrapsBPS reached out to businesses that had never tried food scrap collection and asked them for feedback on signs and how-to guides, setting up service, and employee training. Each business completed surveys, and engaged with phone, email and on-site assistance. 
  • Nine businesses, small to mid-sized, and ranging from fast-food chains, to grocery store, to full-service restaurants participated in the test project.
  • In exchange for this valuable information, BPS paid for 4 months of compost collection service, and provided containers, signage, compostable bags, and ongoing technical support.

What we heard:

  • Employee scraping food scrapsWe appreciate that composting is good for the earth.
  • We thought separating food scraps would take too much time, but turns out it was only a little more work.
  • Once employees saw the posters and containers, they found it easy to understand how to compost.
  • The kitchen containers were very useful – we like them!
  • The “Start Composting Today” informational piece was great at explaining what to do.
  • It would be nice to have a video that explains why my employees should compost.
  • Posters need to be laminated so they last.
  • We really appreciated the on-site assistance in Spanish.
  • We’ll keep composting going as long as the costs of the service and the bags are low.
  • We like using the liner bags – it makes it easier for us to keep containers clean.

Next steps:

  • Employee pushing compost roll cartExpand access to on-site technical assistance and online materials in Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Mandarin and Russian.
  • Make durable posters available.
  • Look into providing smaller (4 gallon) food scraps buckets for smaller kitchens.
  • Promote new videos for business owners and managers about why composting is important and ways to make the collection system easy to use. 

Participants included: Best Baguette, Bistro 23, Izzy’s, So La Kong Dong, Su Casa Super Mercado, Super Torta, Wall Street Pizza, Wheland’s Pub, Zero Degrees.

Find more information about how to set up business composting service or request assistance.