The Portland region continues to improve its efforts to reduce the impact of the products we consume on human health and the environment. In 2013, 64 percent of what the region’s residents and businesses tossed was recycled, composted or converted to energy, setting an all-time record. But about one million tons of garbage every year is still treated as just that: garbage.
Currently, about 90 percent of this region’s garbage ends up in one of two landfills owned by Waste Management, under an agreement that has been in place for more than 25 years. That agreement expires at the end of 2019.
Where garbage goes – and how it can be used as a resource to generate energy, make compost or be reused in other ways – is a key focus of Metro’s Solid Waste Roadmap, a collection of projects aimed at determining the best approaches for managing the region’s waste. Landfills will continue to play a role in the responsible disposal of the region’s waste, in part because there is more than 100 years of capacity available among seven landfills located within 200 miles of Portland. How that capacity is used has impact on garbage customers within the Portland area as well as on the health and environment of the communities that host these landfills.