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The City of Portland, Oregon

Sustainability at Work

Providing free tools and expertise to achieve your goals

Phone: 503-823-7037

Email: sustainabilityatwork@portlandoregon.gov

Green plates cut waste at PDX

The Portland International Airport is expanding their reusable plate program after seeing great results from the pilot.

PDX Green Plate Pilot results

Headed to the airport? Look for the green plates

Starting later this month, the airport is expanding their Green Plate Program, which encourages travelers and airport staff to use reusable plates and cutlery instead of throw-away to-go containers.

Making this switch makes a big difference. When PDX piloted the Green Plate Program in 2017, they cut packaging waste by 73%! The expanded program will offer a rainbow of real plates from pre-security restaurants and food carts. Read the full story.

Follow their lead

Find out how to replace throw-away dishware with the real stuff in your office or restaurant.

How (and why) to properly recycle your old electronics

Learn how to recycle computers, TVs, printers, keyboards and mice, for free!

Over the last ten years Oregonians have recycled 250 million pounds of electronics through the Oregon E-Cycles program.

Recycling your old electronics is...

Good for the environment: Electronics are made with valuable materials that can be recycled into new products. The U.S. EPA estimates that recycling one million computers prevents the release of greenhouse gases equivalent to the annual emissions of over 17,000 cars.

Good for our health: Electronics contain toxic materials such as lead, cadmium and mercury: Keeping these toxics out of the environment protects our health. According to the U.S. EPA, 40 percent of lead and 70 percent of other toxics found in landfills — including mercury, cadmium and polybrominated flame retardants — are from electronics.

Required: Oregonians are prohibited by law from throwing away computers, monitors or TVs in the trash.

How to recycle computers, TVs and more for free

Oregon E-Cycles provides free recycling of computers (desktops, laptops and tablets), monitors, TVs, printers and peripherals (keyboards and mice). 

Oregon E-Cycles

Workplaces with more than 10 employees may dispose of up to seven computers, monitors or TVs at one time, but collection sites may charge for additional items. Small businesses and nonprofits with 10 or fewer employees may take more than seven (this is also true for individuals and households).

Find your nearest E-Cycles drop-off location. Questions? Check out the E-Cycles FAQs.

old cell phonesRecycling other electronics

Oregon E-Cycles does not currently provide free recycling of cell phones, speakers, scanners, game consoles or other types of electronics or appliances — however, there are local recycling drop-off facilities that do accept these items.

Call Metro’s Find a Recycler hotline (503-234-3000) or use their online search tool. They can tell you the most convenient drop-off locations to your home or work.

Before you recycle, can you donate and reuse?

If you have still usable computers, laptops or tablets, bring them to Free Geek, where they’ll be refurbished and donated to folks who don’t have access to new computers.

Free Geek also accepts electronics for recycling, so if you bring things they don’t want, they can still take them off your hands.

Learn more

How one company is curbing coffee cup waste

Nossa Familia Coffee is encouraging customers to reduce waste by choosing reusable coffee cups.

Three people clinking reusable coffee mugs

Gold certified Nossa Familia Coffee, a local roaster with three Portland cafes, takes sustainability seriously. They’ve looked for ways to make each step of the coffee growing, roasting, and serving process more sustainable, including energy-efficient roasting, purchasing 100% renewable energy, and reducing packaging wherever possible.

Earlier this year, they tackled disposable coffee cup waste, encouraging customers to use washable, reusable mugs rather than throw-away cups. Here’s how they did it:

Shifting the default away from throw-away

On Earth Day 2019, they changed their pricing based on the type of cup customers choose:

  • To-stay mugs: no charge
  • Bring-your-own mug: 25-cent discount
  • Disposable cup, lid, sleeve, etc.: 25-cent charge

They implemented this change at all three of their cafes after a test run at their SE Division cafe showed a substantial increase in the number of customers choosing “for here” cups or bringing their own mugs for coffee to go.

Lending a hand…or a cup

They've also set up a cup “lending library,” where customers who forgot a travel mug can grab a clean mug, and people who have extra mugs can donate them for others to use.

 Nossa Familia Coffee's sign for Little Free Cup Library Reusable cup lending library

Reducing disposable coffee cups is part of Nossa Familia's larger sustainability program. Learn more about their efforts to reduce waste and their environmental footprint company-wide at www.nossacoffee.com/sustainability.

What YOU can do to reduce coffee cup waste

If your office provides disposable cups, dishware or utensils, set up reusable dishware in your kitchen or break room. If you don’t have funds to buy mugs, host an ugly mug contest, encouraging people to bring in old mugs from home or from thrift shops.

Do staff go out for coffee a lot? Set up travel mugs by the door so they’re hard to miss and easy to grab.

Go big with borrowing

Did you know that Portland has free lending libraries for home and garden tools and cooking tools? You can also swap kids' toys in Woodlawn and St. Johns. Or check-out all sorts of things at the Library of Things in Beaverton or Hillsboro.

Find more ideas and resources for borrowing, reuse, repair and shopping smart on the Resourceful PDX blog, map and events calendar.

 

Learn more

Why "tanglers" should never go in your recycling bin

Plastic bags, rope, cords and clothing all wreak havoc at the recycling facility.

What are “tanglers”?

Plastic bags, rope, electrical cords, string lights and clothing are all examples of “tanglers” – long or stretchy items that get tangled up in the gears of the machinery that sorts recyclables.

Why are they a menace to recyclers?

When plastic bags and other items get tangled in the machinery, staff must cut them off the gears, one-by-one. This is dangerous for staff and shuts down the entire facility, making it slower and more expensive to sort recyclables and get them ready for the next leg in their journey to becoming new products.

This one-and-a-half-minute video shows what happens when tanglers go into recycling:


Thanks to Baltimore County Department of Public Works for the 'Tangled Up!' video.

What can you do?

Follow Portland’s recycling guidelines, which don’t allow plastic bags, rope, cords, or clothing. Label your workplace recycling bins with free posters so coworkers know what can, and cannot, go into recycling.

There are often drop-off options for recycling or donating plastic bags, electrical cords and string lights, and clothing. Use Metro’s Find a Recycler website or call their hotline at 503-234-3000. Metro's hotline is staffed six days a week and they can tell you the closest drop-off locations to your home or work.

If there aren’t any recycling options, or you aren’t able to drop them off for recycling or donation, they should go in the trash.

Thank you for recycling right!

Learn more

3 tips to bring bike riders to your business

Set up free bike racks and promote your bike friendly offerings.

attract cyclists to your business

The sun’s out and so are the cyclists! Here are some ways you can bring more bike riders to your business.

Bike racks

Bike racks attract riders’ attention. Even if their destination is further down the street, if you’ve got the parking spot, they’ll spend a few moments in front of your business both when they arrive and when they leave. 

Did you know the City of Portland will install bike racks in front of your business for free? Request a rack. Or go big and request a multi-rack bike corral!

You can also get creative and have a custom art rack created that accentuates your business. We’ve seen all kinds of great custom racks around town: giant eyeglasses, a pink doughnut, a Fremont Bridge replica, and an enormous baking whisk.

Be a Bike Friendly Business

If you run a retail store, restaurant, coffee shop or bar, show that you welcome bicyclists through Travel Portland’s Bike Friendly Business program.

The program is free, and the signs to post in front of your business start at only $26. Check it out.

Offer perks and discounts

From dentists to physical therapists, we’ve see Portland businesses offer discounts for customers who arrive by bike. Even a small perk can get a customer’s attention and build loyalty to your business.