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Portland starts composting of kitchen waste, nearly two decades after ill-fated commercial composter fizzled

Curbside composting launches on Halloween

Portland is finally composting residents' kitchen scraps, nearly two decades after the collosal failure of Metro's bid to lead the nation in composting residential garbage.

In the early 1990s, a $28 million state-of-the art composter was built by Reidel Environmental, on contract with Metro, that promised to compost Portland-area residents' garbage at a site in Northeast Portland. The facility never opened for business, due to a host of engineering and other technical problems that resulted in intense odors wafting into neighboring residential areas.

Reidel's $28 million investment went up in smoke, the company went bankrupt and the composting equipment was sold off.

Portland and Metro wound up expanding composting in smaller steps over the years, including residential yard debris and commercial food waste from restaurants and groceries.

Meanwhile, Portland took a back seat to San Francisco, Seattle and other peer cities as they launched curbside recycling and composting of residents' kitchen waste.

Finally, on Halloween, Portlanders began putting their kitchen waste into green carts formerly used only for yard debris.