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Residential Organics Collection


On March 1, 2016, the Lake Oswego City Council passed Resolution 16-09 to authorize Republic Services to begin the collection of residential organics, with an associated rate increase, effective June 1, 2016.

What does this mean for Lake Oswego Residents?

Put simply, this can add food waste to your yard debris bin. Essentially, if it goes in your mouth, it can go in the bin. Food waste will include:

  • All food, inclusive of meat, bones, dairy, fats, grease, etc.
  • Coffee grounds, including the filter. In fact, these are encouraged as coffee grounds help minimize the smell.
  • Tea bags
  • Greasy pizza boxes
  • A limited number of food stained paper products. Remember, used napkins and paper towels cannot be recycled, so if you use them to wipe up food, they can go in your yard debris bin on a limited basis. However, if they have household cleaners on them, please keep them out and throw them away.

There is no change to your collection schedule or frequency. All waste, recycling, and yard debris will continue to be picked up weekly.

Ok, so how can I get my food from my kitchen to the yard debris bin?

Click here to have the process explained to you by LOFD firefighters, Lt. Lauritzon and Driver/Engineer Owens:

All Lake Oswego households had a countertop pail delivered to them. If you are new to the area and do not have a pail, please contact Republic Services at 503-636-3011 to request one. Instead of scraping plates and cutting boards into your garbage can or garbage disposal, scrape your scraps into your pail. When it gets full, simply empty the pail into your yard debris bin.

  • You can keep your pail on your counter, or hook it to a cabinet door out of sight.
  • To minimize any potential odors, keep your pail in your refrigerator or freezer. They are small enough to fit nicely in there.
  • Line your pail with a brown paper bag or newspaper to keep it clean. The bag or newspaper can be dumped into the yard debris bin along with your food waste.
  • Please do not buy green "compostable" bag liners for your pail. Many of these bags do not break down at compost facilities and create this light green confetti, rendering the compost product unusable to farmers and landscapers who purchase the finished product.

What if I lose my pail, my dog eats the pail, or the pail breaks?

If you have received a faulty pail, please email to request a new one, or call 503-635-0291. We can replace it for you. All other pail mishaps, you will need to replace the pail on your own. MetroPaint sells the exact same pails for $8 or you are welcome to use whatever receptacle meets your needs.

Why is this better than putting food down the garbage disposal?

When you put food, especially food high in fat content, down your garbage disposal, you are taxing the sewage and wastewater system. Most systems, including ours in Lake Oswego, were not designed to process fats, grease, and other food products that clog the pipes. Additional treatment is required to keep these products from entering the Willamette River. We do not have any current research on the impact of food waste on the Lake Oswego system, but to get a sense of how it impacts sanitary sewers in general, have a look at this video from Seattle's system: Gross! 

What about the smell and potential pests?

Your food waste is already going into a garbage can. Moving it from your garbage can to your yard debris bin, which is still picked up weekly, will not attract additional pests or create additional odors. Always keep the lid closed to all your carts to keep animals out. Luckily for us, Lake Oswego is not the first municipality to offer curbside organics collection and thus we have many experiences from other cities that we can use to ensure our program is easy and worry free for residents. Here are a few tips:

For your kitchen pail:

  • Line it with newspaper or a paper bag that you can easily collect your scraps in and dump into the yard debris bin
  • Sprinkle baking soda in it to keep odors down
  • Keep it in your freezer
  • Empty more than once a week
  • Rinse it out in the sink, or clean in your dishwasher

For your yard debris bin:

  • Layer leaves and other yard debris at the bottom of the cart
  • Sprinkle baking soda into the cart
  • Rinse out regularly. Please ensure that when you dump the water out of the cart, that it does not go into the storm drain. Remember, we are trying to keep food out of our sewer system!

Never use plastic bags in your kitchen pail or yard debris bin, even if they say "compostable". Paper bags and newspaper are ideal for lining your kitchen pail, and paper yard debris bags are available at most hardware stores.

2016 Republic Services rate increase

To cover the costs of the residential organics program, there will be an across the board $1.89/month rate increase for all customers, except for those customers who have a 20 gallon cart. There will be no rate increase for these customers. By diverting food waste to your yard debris bin, you may be able to decrease your cart size for solid waste. The cost increase will cover the following:

  • Transfer from an approved Metro Transfer Station
  • Transfer to a DEQ Type III Compost facility and disposal costs
  • Cost of pails, depreciated over 5 years.

The majority of Lake Oswego customers have a 35 gallon cart, and therefore with the reduction of waste from food, may find that they can decrease to a 20 gallon cart and see significant savings in their monthly bill. The approved rates are included as an attachment below. In summary, the new residential rates are as follows:

20 gallon cart size: $19.91/month

35 gallon cart size: $28.23/month

65 gallon cart size: $43.92/month

90 gallon cart size: $46.21/month

All residential service include weekly curbside recycling and weekly curbside 65-gallon yard debris collection.

But what if I already practice backyard composting, or have a landscape service that collects by yard debris?

Customers may save $2.75/mon by applying for a yard debris exemption. Exemptions are approved if the customer can demonstrate a working home composting program, a yard debris maintenance service approved by the City, or they self haul their yard debris to an approved collection site. You may not place yard debris in your trash can or other receptacle for collection.

If you have already received an exemption, but would like to opt back in to participate in the organics collection, please contact Republic Services at 503-636-3011.

Helpful videos

How to use your food scrap collector - featuring our own LOFD!

How to use your green cart - courtesy of the City of Austin, Texas

With general questions about the program, please contact:

Jenny Slepian, Sustainability and Management Fellow, City of Lake Oswego at 503-635-0291 or


Republic Services at 503-636-3011


Click any thumbnail image to view a slideshow

Residential Organics CollectionResidential Organics Collection