Food is the single largest portion of the garbage greater Portland throws away every year. Nearly a fifth of the garbage the region currently sends to landfills is food waste – that's enough to fill 5,000 long-haul trucks. As food decomposes in landfills, it creates methane, a powerful contributer to climate change.
By the numbers
55 percent of the food in the garbage come from businesses. Take a look at some key numbers related to food that gets tossed – and collected – across greater Portland.
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For more than 10 years, Metro and local communities have taken steps to keep food scraps out of landfills and put them to use. In 2004 a program began to collect food scraps from some businesses. Today, the food scraps from participating restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses across the region are converted to compost and energy at facilities near Corvallis and Eugene.
On the residential side, in 2011 the City of Portland began a program that allows residents of single-family homes and some smaller apartment complexes to put their food waste in their yard debris bins. More recently, Forest Grove and Lake Oswego added similar programs and other cities are exploring the option as well.
Despite these programs, a lot more food can be kept out of landfills. Last year, Metro Council directed staff to investigate ways to do that. Metro is working closely with businesses to understand what they might need to participate in a more robust program. Metro will also be seeking proposals for facilities that can handle increased amounts of food scraps from businesses in greater Portland.
The Council is expected to decide on next steps in the fall of 2017.