The first compliance deadlines for the new Portland Metro food waste ordinance requiring businesses to separate food waste from other waste are fast approaching.

This article provides a summary of the key provisions and requirements.

Who is covered?

The ordinance applies to "covered businesses" including cafeterias and buffets, restaurants, colleges and universities, grocery stores, hospitals, hotels, schools, food product manufacturing, and food service contractors. A full list of covered businesses can be found at Section 5.15 – 4015 of the Metro Code.

Adopted by Portland Metro back in 2018, the food waste ordinance wasn't enforced during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Covered businesses will now be required to comply with the ordinance according to the following schedule:

  • Businesses generating 1,000 pounds or more of food waste per week (Group 1), will be required to comply by March 31, 2023.
  • Businesses generating 500 pounds or more of food waste per week (Group 2), will be required to comply by September 30, 2023.
  • Businesses generating 250 pounds or more of food waste per week (Group 3), will be required to comply by September 30, 2024.

"Food waste" includes spoiled food, food prep trimmings, plate scraping, raw or cooked meat, dairy, fish, shellfish, nuts, seeds, bread, and pasta; coffee grounds and tea; peels, shells, and bones. However, food waste does not include waste generated by the public in public or customer-facing areas of a business but, instead, applies to waste generated in manufacturing, food preparation, or dishwashing areas. Similarly, covered food waste does not include food fit for human consumption, stored properly, and accepted for donation by a charitable organization, or food collected to feed animals in facilities regulated by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

What is required?

Covered businesses must separate food waste from all other solid waste for collection and recover food waste that is controlled by the business, agents, and employees, but not food waste controlled by customers or the public.

Enforcement

Different jurisdictions within the Portland Metro area may adopt different enforcement mechanisms. Within the City of Portland, upon observing violations the city will first attempt to work with the businesses to meet the separation and collection requirements. If a business does not work towards compliance and does not get an approved temporary waiver, the city may enforce fines of $200 for the first month, $400 for the second month, and $600 for every month after that.