The new garbage and recycling program has many options allowing you to tailor the services you want to purchase. Standard service will switch to weekly green and blue recycling cart collection, bi-weekly garbage pickup. Monthly garbage with weekly green and blue cart recycling is also available as an alternative standard option.
Those who don't even fill one can of garbage every four weeks can choose "on call" pickup and have the trash taken only when the 32-gallon can is full. And you can choose yard debris pickup only on call, too, if you don't need or want collection of the green cart every week. The full list of options is posted here.
For instance, you may order weekly blue cart pickup for $7 per month, then on call garbage maybe every six weeks for $8.50 each pickup, and on call yard debris/food scraps (including pizza boxes which currently go in the garbage) for $6.75 each time you put your green roll cart out. Or for those with more yard debris and food scraps, you can get weekly collection of both blue and green roll cars for $17.35 per month, then add on call garbage whenever needed.
These changes allow you to customize your garbage/recycling service and the costs, to fit your needs. The only choice that will no longer be available is weekly trash pickup. The garbage trucks will only be in neighborhoods bi-weekly, with the recycling trucks picking up weekly. This change was approved in concept by the Council in 2007, with the first phase adding the use of the green and blue roll-carts for recycling and the final step the year-long pilot projects in four neighborhoods in different parts of the city. Although the survey methodology evaluating the pilot project was flawed, the hard numbers of participant complaints at the start of the pilot compared with participant input at the Council hearing was indicative of consumer acceptance over time. Other large cities, including some in more southern areas with hotter summers as well as nearby Olympia WA, have switched to bi-weekly trash pickup with no increase in odors or vermin.
I asked at the hearing when Council adopted the changes, about families caring for residents using adult diapers and non-toxic medical waste. We managed well with monthly garbage pickup when my infants used disposable diapers, but adult versions are larger. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability will work with customers on a case-by-case basis in hardship situations to provide necessary service without increased cost.
Please call your garbage operator to request changes to the standard service, which will be weekly pickup of green and blue carts plus bi-weekly garbage.
Find out who your hauler is, how to contact them, and sign up for email reminders of your trash collection day, here.
Call 503-823-4000 during business hours to be connected to staff in the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability for questions and concerns about the new system.
Apart from the kitchen food scraps pails, not much infrastructure is being added in this change. When the pails are delivered, they will contain instructions on how to get them picked up again, if you don't want one. I asked if citizens could opt out before delivery, and was told no - this answer was disappointing.
With respect to the whole system, if it turns out Portlanders can't adapt to the new system or don't like it, we can go back to the current routine. My family of five has been managing with monthly garbage pick-up for over a decade, so I'm hoping many others will find the new services will work for you. If they don't, I'm sure I will hear from you. If after a year it is still considered unworkable by the majority of customers, I will ask for the matter to be revisited.