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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 restaurant

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 iconIf 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

Container location: Make recycling as convenient as garbage. Ideally, containers are paired together: 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.

Color: If you purchase your own containers, aim to get 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 poster Garbage poster

STEP 3: Educate employees

Recycling guidebookLabel 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. 

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

Front-of-house recycling

Front-of-house recycling is generally not recommended. It’s common for customers to confuse what items go where. They often put things in the recycling container that can’t be recycled like to-go cups and containers, plastic cutlery, or napkins. This contaminates your business's recycling and may result in all your recycling disposed of as trash.

Most front-of-house waste is not recyclable. More than likely, the only recyclable items customers would have are drink bottles (metal, plastic or glass) or tin foil (if it’s used to wrap a burrito, for example).

Collecting cans and bottles. If your customers have drink cans and bottles, the best way to set up front-of-house collection is with clear, simple signage showing just drink bottles (contact us for help creating signs). It also helps to use a smaller container, like a dish tub on a counter, that allows customers to see what’s in the bin.

Collect front-of-house, sort back-of-house. Some cafes and coffee shops ask customers to put all waste in dish tubs and then staff sort the waste back-of-house. This is especially helpful when compost and recycling are being collected – the more waste needs to be sorted, the less likely it will be correctly sorted by customers, who are often in a hurry and unsure of what items go where.