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 contributor to climate change.
For more than 10 years, Metro and local communities have taken steps to keep food scraps out of landfills and put them to better use. In 2004 a program began to voluntarily 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.
Despite these voluntary efforts, a lot more food can be kept out of landfills. In 2016, the Metro Council directed staff to investigate ways to do that. In fall 2017, Metro sought public comment on an initial policy proposal to keep more food scraps from restaurants, grocery stores, and other food service businesses out of landfills and put to better use creating energy, compost or other valuable products.
The comments Metro received, along with guidance from the Metro Council, informed updates to the proposed Metro code language and draft administrative rules. From Aug. 31 through Sept. 28, 2018, Metro sought comments on updated administrative rule language that sets requirements for local governments to enforce the collection of food scraps separate from garbage.
In July 2018, the Metro Council adopted new code language requiring the largest food service businesses to separate their food scraps from other garbage starting in 2020, and smaller food service businesses will be phased into the policy over the following three years.
Information for businesses
Learn more about the types of businesses and types of materials included in the policy and use an estimation guide to help you estimate the quantity of food scraps your business generates.