Residential compost tips
How to collect food scraps and yard debris, use optional liners, find tips and resources
Curbside composting basics
- Yard debris and food scraps are picked up weekly.
- Set out your roll cart for pickup every week – even if it's not full.
- Do not pack tightly; contents must fall freely from the roll cart.
- Weight limit is 135 lbs.
- Containers at the curb by 6 a.m. Empty containers should be removed from curb within 24 hours.
- Put only food scraps, yard debris, approved food-soiled paper and approved pail liners into your green Portland Composts! roll cart.
- Do not set your kitchen compost container out at the curb.
Kitchen compost containers
While neither the City of Portland nor your garbage and recycling company provide kitchen pails, just about any container with a lid will work for collecting your food scraps. The key is to choose a size and location that makes it easy to use, to empty (into the green composting roll cart), and to keep clean. Metro sells the Sure Close kitchen composter for $8. Call 503-234-3000 for details.
Use an optional liner in your kitchen compost container. You can contain food with a few sheets of newspaper, a paper
bag or approved compostable bag to keep your food scraps from touching the inside of your green roll cart.
Look for these approved brands at a local grocery or hardware stores:
- BioBag - "Certified Compostable"
- EcNow Tech - "Compost Me"
- EcoSafe - "6400 Line"
- Glad - "Compostable Kitchen"
- Natur-Tec - "Natur-Bag Compostable"
Note: These approved compostable bags are designed to break down quickly and safely at composting facilities. Other compostable bags and regular plastic bags are NOT allowed.
Tips for food scrap collection
View videos on how to collect and compost food scraps, and how to keep containers clean.
Drain as much liquid as possible from food before putting in your container.
Wrap the food in newspaper and then place in your container.
Place food scraps in a container in the freezer and add them to the green roll cart the night before your pickup.
Empty and rinse out your container frequently, and sprinkle baking soda in it or rub vinegar on the inside of the lid to avoid odors and fruit flies.
Layer food scraps in between yard debris to reduce odors and to contain messier foods.
Store your cart in the shade in warm weather.
Use soap and water to clean the green roll cart. Pour dirty water onto grass or gravel, not down the storm drain.
Get your green roll cart cleaned for $12.50. Contact your garbage and recycling company to request this service.
Extra yard debris
Green compost roll carts must be used first so drivers know to stop for collection. Additional yard debris cans, Kraft bags, or bundles should be placed near the roll cart. You will be charged $3.75 for each one you put out for collection. Extra yard debris can also be saved for your next pick up or taken to a compost facility. To use an extra can, bag or bundle:
- 32-Gallon Can
- Weight limit is 55 lbs.
- Label can with Yard Debris Only sticker.
- 30-Gallon Kraft Paper Bag (no plastic bags)
- Weight limit is 45 lbs.
- Use a 30-gallon brown Kraft two-ply yard debris paper bag that you can buy at your local grocery or hardware store. These bags compost with the yard debris.
- Because Kraft bags are made from paper, avoid putting wet debris in the bottom of the bag.
- Keep in a dry place until pickup day to prevent the bottom from falling out.
- Weight limit is 45 lbs.
- Bundles must be tied securely with string or twine. Do not use wire.
- Branches cannot exceed 36 inches in length and 4 inches in diameter.
Large amounts of yard debris
If you have a large amount of yard debris to dispose of, you can take the material to a yard debris processor or order a yard debris only drop box. Containers less than 3 cubic yards must be ordered from your garbage and recycling company.
Drop boxes larger than 3 cubic yards can be provided by your garbage and recycling company or any permitted company or drop box company.
Be sure to tell them the container is for yard debris only. There are specific weight limits for each container size and restrictions on the yard debris materials that can be placed in them. Be sure to get all the information and price quotes before delivery. Garbage or other restricted materials are not allowed in the drop box. You will incur additional charges if the container has to be taken to the transfer station for landfill disposal.
Yard debris reduction tips
Grow a healthy lawn and garden and reduce your yard waste by grasscycling. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn after you mow reduces clean-up time and the need for fertilizer. Clippings decompose and send valuable nutrients back to the soil.
Mow frequently (every five to six days). Set your mower to cut at the recommended height for your type of lawn. Never shorten the grass by more than one-third.
Learn more about how to manage pests, diseases and weeds in your garden without using pesticides.
Yard debris and food scraps go to Oregon commercial composting facilities with specialized processes to quickly break down the organic matter - even meat scraps and bones. Compost from these businesses is sold to landscapers and other agricultural users and available to residents.
- Finished compost can be purchased at the Recology facility in North Plains.
- Portland residents can also purchase compost year-round from the City-operated Sunderland Recycling Facility, located at 9325 NE Sunderland Road.
Composting turns your yard trimmings and vegetable scraps into a nutrient-rich soil amendment for your yard and garden. When used as mulch, compost will reduce your need to water. Use it to enhance the soil, make a potting mixture, or mulch around plants and shrubs.
- Metro offers great tips for backyard composting success.
- Find resources, including how to make your own compost bin, purchase one at a local garden center or from Metro at reduced rates.
Reminders and tips
- Do not dispose of hazardous products in your green Portland Composts! roll cart. Learn how to dispose of hazardous waste.
- Landlords are required to provide garbage and recycling service for tenants. Read our frequently asked questions for more information.
- Never forget garbage week! Visit www.garbagedayreminders.com for schedule information and convenient email reminders.