Most of the garbage generated in greater Portland goes to a landfill about 150 miles east of Portland. The Columbia Ridge Landfill near Arlington, Ore., has received much of this region’s garbage through contracted agreement since the early 1990s. That contract expires at the end of 2019 and discussion about what happens after that is underway.
Landfills will continue to be a final destination for some portion of the region's trash. But there may be opportunities to use some of that garbage as a resource instead of simply burying it.
To this end, Metro is already exploring ways to pull more food scraps out of garbage to make compost or generate energy. Food scraps currently make up nearly a fifth of the region’s garbage. There is also discussion about whether more recyclable materials can be pulled from trash - after food is removed - with advanced sorting technologies.
Making energy out of trash
In addition, Metro is looking at technolgy often referred to as "waste-to energy." A facility less than 50 miles south of Portland converts Marion County's garbage into electricity, and could expand to take more trash. Metro is evaluating whether, from an environmental, health and financial standpoint, this might be an option for a portion of greater Portland's garbage.
A health impact assessment was conducted and can be downloaded below. This assessment will inform further considerations by the Metro Council in the summer of 2017 on whether to continue studying a waste-to-energy option.