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Council approves household waste collection changes

UPDATE • Unanimous vote means new schedule takes effect Oct. 31

After admitting that some Portlanders will have trouble getting used to the new garbage and recycling schedule, the City Council unanimously approved Wednesday morning a plan intended to encourage composting of more food scraps.

'It will be an annoyance at first, but we will get used to it and benefit from it a lot,' Mayor Sam Adams said during the council hearing at City Hall.

The plan approved by the council will allow residents to place food scraps in the large green roll carts designated for yard debris. They would be picked up every week instead of every other week, which is the current schedule.

The plan will also change when the beige, brown or dark green roll carts for garbage are collected. They are currently picked up every week, but would only be picked up every other week under the plan.

The blue recycling roll carts and yellow recycling bins would still be picked up every week.

The goal of the plan is to encourage more residents to recycle food scraps for composting. According to the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, costs would increase for about 20 percent of customers. Some of the increase will occur if customers change to larger garbage barrels to hold their solid waste for two weeks instead of one.

'I realize it's going to be a challenge for my family to adapt, but I'm looking forward to the challenge,' said Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

At last week's hearing on the plan, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Director Susan Anderson testified that the council had approved the changes in 2007. Wednesday's vote was just required to implement them, Anderson said.

Several citizens testified for and against the changes at last week's hearing. The opponents complained that uncollected garbage will pile up during the week it is not collected. They also noted that disposable diapers - which are a health hazard - will be among the garbage that must stay around a week longer.

Supporters praised the plan for increasing the composting of food waste. They said customers can reduce the amount of garbage they throw away by increasing their recycling.

The changes will take effect Oct. 31.

After last week's hearing, Adams said the plan will be good for the environment.

'By taking this step, we can decrease the amount of waste sent to landfills and reduce green house gases released by decomposing food,' Adams said after last week's hearing. 'Food scraps can then be turned into nutrient-rich compost for agriculture and gardening.'