Portland curbside composting program provides update

Portland curbside composting program provides update

By Jake Thomas, Resource Recycling

Portland, Oregon's curbside composting program has turned one year old. A new report from the city has found that the program is reducing the amount of garbage being generated by residents who are generally happy with composting.

On Oct. 31, 2011 the City of Portland launched the program that included a weekly collection of all food scraps and yard debris, with a reduction in garbage collection service to every other week and no changes to weekly recycling collection.

The report found that the first year of the program resulted in a reduction in the amount of residential garbage collected by the city. Comparing the first 12 months of the new program with the same time period for the previous year, Portlanders reduced the amount of residential garbage from 94,100 tons to 58,300, a 38-percent drop.

For the report, workers from the city's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability went out and dug through 1,000 composting rollcarts and found that 78 percent of residents are placing food scraps in their carts. Additionally, another sample of residents' refuse found that Portlanders continue to recycle 85 percent of accepted material.

However, the report states that contamination continues to be an issue. In response, the city began a notification program in April 2012 that has so far contacted 3,000 households — out of 143,000 subscribers — via a tag left on their cart, or a letter sent to their home, indicating that they are not properly sorting their recyclables and garbage.

A report from the city auditor in October found that 66 percent of the public thought that the city's garbage/recycling service was "good" or "very good." However, The Oregonian reports that is a drop in satisfaction from previous years. In 2011, 78 percent of residents thought the service was either "good" or "very good." The paper also points out that 4 percent of respondents last year said that had "bad" or "very bad" feelings about the service. This year, that number jumped to 14 percent.

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