The strong economy and continued growth in employment and demand for new housing should result in increasing amounts of garbage and other wastes being generated in the greater Portland area, according to the annual solid waste forecast released by Metro.
The forecast, which focuses primarily on the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019, but also predicts longer-term waste trends, foresees continued increases in the amount of garbage, or wet and dry waste, created in the Portland area in the next two calendar years, but at slower rates of growth. Part of the continued increase in garbage may also be attributable to ongoing challenges with recycling markets in the U.S. and abroad.
Metro forecasts overall wet waste generated throughout the tri-county area to reach 824,000 tons in 2019 and 835,000 tons in 2020, up from 804,000 tons predicted for the end of 2018. In July, the Metro Council adopted a mandatory food scraps collection requirement for certain types of food service businesses, which will be phased in starting in 2020. That policy is expected to have some impacts in slowing the increase in growth in wet waste tonnage over time, though its effects will not likely be evident until late 2020.
In terms of dry waste, which mostly consists of construction and demolition debris, robust construction activity led to an expected increase in dry waste generation to 682,000 tons in 2018. Dry waste generation is expected to increase more slowly in the next two years due, in part, to expected increases in mortgage rates, a shortage of highly skilled construction workers, and an anticipated slowdown in new housing starts. Dry waste is expected to reach 689,000 tons in 2019 and 700,000 tons in 2020.
Metro also forecasts an increase in quantities of food waste mixed with yard debris as two jurisdictions, unincorporated Washington County and the City of Gresham, are expected to begin new residential food waste compost programs in 2019 and 2020, respectively, similar to those already in place in Portland, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Milwaukie and Forest Grove. Overall quantities of mixed food and yard waste are expected to reach 147,000 tons per year in 2020, up from about 106,000 tons in 2018.
“While growth is slowing down, the economy should remain strong for at least another couple of years, and that will mean continued growth in the amounts of waste we generate, albeit a little more slowly,” said Joel Sherman, senior solid waste planner.
Metro uses its solid waste forecast to inform the rates set for taxes and fees on garbage that pay for Metro’s solid waste operations, waste reduction and household hazardous waste programs, and general government functions. The forecast also informs how Metro allocates quantities of garbage to private-sector transfer stations that, along with Metro Central and Metro South transfer stations, receive garbage collected from homes and businesses and consolidate it for transport to distant landfills.
Metro will host a webinar on the latest solid waste forecast on Thursday, Nov. 29.