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News and Tips on Garbage, Recycling, Composting and Reducing Waste at Home


Top 6 items to keep out of your curbside recycling

These items belong in the garbage.

items that belong in garbage1. Plastic bags, plastic film and wrappers

2. Paper and plastic drink cups, straws and coffee cups

3. Frozen food boxes and trays

4. To-go containers and “clamshells”

5. Styrofoam™ blocks and foam peanuts

6. Diapers, of course!

Recycle with Confidence

Here’s how to avoid common recycling blunders.

Find out what goes where in the Be Cart Smart Guide

More isn’t always better
Not everything goes into the blue recycling roll cart. Rest assured you are doing the right thing when you put items that are on the NO list into the garbage.

Why are some items accepted in the blue roll cart while others are not? The items on the YES list can be sorted, sold, and turned into new materials in a cost-effective way.

Free yourself from recycling number confusion
Do you search for the symbol and number on the bottom to decide if you should recycle an item? Give your eyes a break! Ignore the numbers; they indicate plastic resin type for manufacturers, not recyclability. Portland’s recycling facilities sort containers based on size and shape.

Leave out the take-out items
To-go containers are not accepted in the blue roll cart. This includes paper and plastic cups, food containers and wrappers, cutlery, and straws. Putting take-out items in the recycling slows down the sorting process, adding cost.Find out what goes where in the Be Cart Smart Guide

No plastic bags, please
Plastic bags are on the NO list because they get caught in machinery at the sorting facilities, causing major mechanical slow-downs. Instead, return them to participating retailers. Follow the list and relax.

Preparation reminders

  • Rinse containers before placing in the blue recycling roll cart and yellow glass bin.
  • Do not include caps or lids for recycling.
  • Take off plastic stickers from fruit and vegetables before placing peels in the green compost roll cart.

Need a recycling refresher? Find our Be Cart Smart guide online or download it in one of 12 languages.

Can the heartbreak of wasting summer fruits and vegetables

Food preservation author Marisa McLellan talks about the benefits of small-batch canning to reduce food waste at home.

Picture of a woman with fruits, vegetables, and canned goods.

Avoiding food waste is one of the most important actions residents can take to prevent climate change. Through prevention, donation and recovery, Portlanders sent 22 percent less food to the landfill in 2016 than in 2009*.

There are so many ways to reduce food waste!

We talked to food preservation expert Marisa McLellan of www.foodinjars.com to learn about the benefits of small-batch canning to reduce food waste.

You say you grew up in Portland. What kind of lessons did you learn about our mantra of “reduce-reuse-recycle”?

I grew up with Portland's environmental message bred into my bones. I remember helping sort our recycling from an early age and I joined my middle school's Green Club on the first day of 6th grade.

How did you learn canning?

I grew up helping my mom make jam with blueberries and blackberries picked on Sauvie Island and the windfall apples from our neighbor's trees. So, canning is something I always knew how to do. I didn't start to learn the deep science of food preservation until I started the blog, though. Once I started writing, people began asking me questions, and I quickly discovered how little I understood. I immediately started doing my research, so that I could answer questions from a place of knowledge, rather than folklore.

How did you come up with the idea for small-batch canning recipes?

When I first started canning, I followed the conventionally sized recipes. I didn't know that you could do it any other way. However, I quickly found that I was making far more than I needed and my limited storage space was overflowing. So, I did a little research into culinary ratios and started cutting down my batch sizes.

I discovered that small batches had much to offer. They were quick to make, they were more affordable, they didn't overwhelm my storage space, and helped me reduce the amount of food I wasted on a regular basis. I feel like everyone wins when home cooks preserve on a small scale.

Was there a moment that made you realize that small-batch canning helps reduce food waste?

I started thinking about canning as a waste prevention tool when friends would tell me that they subscribed to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share and were finding themselves throwing as much as half their share away because they just couldn't eat it all up before it started to spoil. It dawned on me that small-batch canning was a way to buy some time for that produce. I started talking people through some basic preservation skills. Each time, I heard back that it made a difference in how they thought about their share and helped them send less food to the compost.

How do you use small-batch canning to reduce food waste in your life?

Whenever I find myself with more produce than I can eat each week, I pull everything out and start to triage. Anything that can keep on its own goes back in the crisper (things like potatoes, cabbage, and cauliflower). Then, I divide things up into four categories—jam, pickles, pesto, spreads—and roll my sleeves up to get started.

Rapidly softening fruit gets prepped (this includes removing soft spots, peeling, coring, pitting, and chopping) and combined with some sugar or honey to soften for a while. Cucumbers will get a quick vinegar pickle treatment, other vegetables like green beans will be submerged in a salt brine with garlic cloves and dill seed to ferment. Tender greens like arugula and spinach get combined with soft herbs and whirred into pesto (pack into small jars, top with olive oil, and freeze for up to a year).

“…I can transform a fridge full of produce in just a couple of hours…I get more value from my food budget, I eat better throughout the week, and I throw away less.” -- Marisa McClellan

Canning sounds intimidating. How do you make it less scary?

The very best way to let go of any fears surrounding canning is to take a class (whether in person or by video), or to find an experienced friend and get them to can with you. Some of the best starter recipes include blueberry jam (it almost always sets up), pickled green beans (they stay crisp better than cucumbers), and applesauce (because apples are high in acid and sugar, you don't have to add anything to applesauce to make it safe for the boiling water bath canner).

Gather the basic tools, including a wide-mouth funnel, jar lifter, and canning rack. (These items are available for borrowing at kitchen share libraries around Portland.)

Visit www.savethefood.com for even more food waste prevention tips.

*According to the latest data available from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

In a unanimous vote, Portland City Council approves new rate for residential garbage, recycling and compost service

Effective May 1, 2018, the new rate addresses higher operating costs for Portland’s 12 franchised garbage and recycling companies.

After a thorough annual review of system costs, the Portland City Council has approved 2018-19 rates for residential garbage, recycling, and composting service at single-family homes and smallplexes up to four units. The monthly bill for the average Portland household will increase by about $2.55 starting May 1, 2018.

The rate increase is needed to cover higher costs for recycling, labor, fuel and garbage disposal. In particular, new quality standards for recycled materials sold to international manufacturers require local recycling facilities to hire additional workers.

It is still important to follow Portland’s recycling list. The City of Portland will re-evaluate the rates in Spring 2019.

Reminders

  • Property owners of residential (1-4 unit) rental properties are required to set up and pay for service for tenants.