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Portland Commercial Compost Program to go Food-Only

Tuesday, April 08, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lindsay Kittleson
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Portland Commercial Compost Program to go

Via Sustainable Business Oregon

A big change is on its way that will impact Portland-area businesses participating in the city's commercial composting program.

According to a letter sent to businesses (and obtained by Sustainable Business Oregon), Metro will no longer accept non-food items from business compost bins beginning next year.

The current program allows food-soiled cardboard, along with a host of compostable-certified cutlery, containers, cups and more.

This comes as somewhat jarring news, as many local restaurants, venues and other businesses have embraced the ability to compost silverware and food containers. Businesses that serve large amounts of food, like the Portland Trail Blazers, will likely see the largest impact.

Metro says the rule change is due to an issue with the facilities that process Portland's commercial compost. An increasing amount of non-food items has led to trouble for methane producers, the first stop for the city's massive compost program. Details were explained in the letter sent to participating businesses:

As the food scraps program has grown, so has the volume of these non-food items. These non-food items have reached such a quantity that they are very difficult to handle at processing facilities. The facility receiving most of our business-generated food scraps converts food into methane gas that is used to generate electricity. That facility cannot effectively process the high volumes of cardboard, packaging and other non-food material that comes with food scraps, nor can the composting facility that takes the rest of the food scraps that comes through Metro Central.

The revised rules will allow all food scraps, as well as some compostable bags and container liners.

Metro will roll out changes in two phases:

  • As of November 1, 2014, food scraps loads may not contain regular or waxed corrugated cardboard. Loads with more than trivial amounts of these materials will be treated and charged as garbage.
  • As of March 1, 2015, food scraps loads may not contain non-food items. Loads with more than trivial amounts of these materials will be treated and charged as garbage.
For more information on the changes, visit the city of Portland's Sustainability at Work composting page.

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