Learn how to reduce food waste
Reducing food waste protects Oregon’s natural resources for future generations and can help your bottom line. Explore Food Waste Stops with Me to learn more about upstream waste prevention and donation practices.
Food policy in the region
Metro is conducting researching and advancing policy options to reduce food waste. Explore Food Scraps Policy to learn more.
Implementation of a regional food scraps separation requirement begins March 2022 and many businesses within the Metro boundary will need to comply by 2023. All businesses generating more than one 60-gallon roll cart of food scraps per week will be required to separate their food scraps and keep them out of the landfill by composting, donation or upstream prevention practices. Businesses are already required to recycle paper and plastic, metal and glass containers. This requirement makes food scraps separation and collection service required for food service businesses.
Metro and local governments adopted food waste requirements to address the enormous environmental, economic and social impacts of food waste. The best way to reduce food waste is through upstream waste prevention and donation practices, but some food scraps are inevitable, and this policy ensures they’re used to create compost or energy rather than ending up at the landfill.
Here’s what businesses need to know.
Which businesses are impacted by the food waste requirement?
Businesses that generate more than 250 pounds of food waste per week (equivalent to about one 60-gallon roll cart per week) will be required to comply. This includes but is not limited to:
- Cafeterias and buffets
- Colleges and universities
- Correctional facilities
- Drinking places
- Elementary and secondary schools
- Food product manufacturing
- Food service contractors
- Full service restaurants
- Grocery retail
- Grocery wholesale
- Limited service restaurants
- Nursing and residential care
- Retirement and assisted living
- Specialty food markets
- Warehouse clubs
How do I get started?
Every business can access free assistance from local waste reduction specialists to help you determine when you need to comply with the requirement and provide free tools such as internal collection containers and labels. Specialists can also provide technical assistance on how to set up food scrap collection, donation and waste prevention practices. Contact a specialist in your area:
What does it take to be in compliance with the requirement?
A business is considered in compliance when they have:
- Set up food scrap collection service with a garbage and recycling company
- Collect food scraps separately from garbage.
- Set up internal bins for food scrap collection
- Label food scrap collection with accurate, easy-to-understand signs that show what is allowed in the bin.
- Property owners and managers must allow the collection of food scraps by businesses or help secure the service for lessees that are covered under the requirement.
It is important to note that the requirement only applies to food handled by employees. Businesses are not required to collect food waste that has been disposed of directly by customers in front-of-house operations.
What types of food are included in the program?
The program is for food only: meat, dairy, fish, bread, pasta, coffee grounds, peels, shells, bones, spoiled food, and plate scrapings. Do not include liquids, paper products, packaging, or anything that is not food. Compostable packaging and utensils are not allowed.
When does my business need to meet the requirement?
Most large and medium size food businesses will need to comply by March or September 2023. Small food businesses and elementary and secondary education will be required to comply by September 2024. All businesses that must comply will receive a letter from their local government with their exact compliance date.
Is composting the only option for food waste?
No. While some food scraps are inevitable, the best use for edible food is human consumption. Businesses who store food properly can set up a donation program in their community. Businesses can also use waste prevention practices in their kitchens to prevent surplus food from being created in the first place.