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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


Recycling at your office

Portland businesses are required to recycle paper, metal, and plastic (“Mixed Recycling”), as well as glass bottles and jars. Learn more about the requirements.

STEP 1: Set up service

recycling truck icon

If your building doesn’t already have recycling pickup service, you’ll need to set up service through one of Portland’s permitted garbage and recycling companies.

Who to call: If your property manager provides garbage service, they’re required to also provide tenants with recycling service. If you set up garbage service for your business, call your current garbage company to add recycling pick-up (their name should be on the side of your garbage containers: look up contact information).

Outside containers: Once you’ve set up recycling service from your garbage company, they’ll drop off recycling containers for the building’s main waste collection area. These may be roll carts, dumpsters or a compactor. All waste containers – recycling, garbage and compost – should be well-labeled with stickers that show what can (and cannot) go in each container. If you need more stickers, let us know.

STEP 2: Set up your space

Small blue recycling bin

Make recycling as convenient as garbage. Pair all waste bins (garbage, recycling and compost) together in a central location: This makes it easy for people to put their waste in the right place, keeping recyclables out of the trash, and trash out of recycling. Break rooms, kitchen spaces, and copy rooms are good locations for waste bins.

Recycling bins: You can purchase recycling bins through janitorial suppliers, home improvement or office supply stores, or other retailers. If you’re looking for small containers to fit under desks, search for “deskside recycling bin.” Or repurpose existing containers, like copier paper boxes. Just make sure containers are well-labeled so it’s clear what goes in the bin (contact us for free posters or stickers).

Color: When purchasing containers, aim for blue for mixed recycling, yellow for glass, black or gray for garbage, and green for compost.

Labels: Use our free posters and stickers to label all recycling and waste containers. Posters are helpful above the containers and stickers can be used directly on the containers.

Recycling posterGlass recycling posterGarbage poster

STEP 3: Talk with janitorial staff

Emptying recycling: If you have deskside recycling bins, confirm who will be emptying them into the central recycling containers. In some buildings, employees are expected to empty their bins into the office’s large, central containers.

Bags. Recycling should be placed loose into the building’s main recycling containers (usually a dumpster or roll cart). Recycling should not be bagged due to the problems bags cause for the recycling sorting facilities.

What goes in, what stays out. Label all waste containers with stickers, and waste areas with posters, that show what can and can’t go in each bin.

Check in and ask for feedback. Your janitorial staff often know when something needs improvement and can help you meet your recycling goals.

Recycling guidebookSTEP 4: Educate employees

Label all waste containers with stickers, and waste areas with posters, that show what can and can’t go in each bin. Do spot checks to make sure non-recyclable items aren’t going into the recycling bin, and correct issues before they become a habit.

Share information about what can and cannot be recycled.

Contact us to schedule a recycling presentation for staff. Encourage staff to bring items from home or work that they find confusing, and we can explain why the item can (or cannot) be recycled.

Get help. Contact us with questions, or for help setting up or improving recycling or educating your coworkers.