Compost cheaters add to trash debate

Compost cheaters add to trash debate

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by Frank Mungeam

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kgw.com

Posted on May 17, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Updated Friday, May 18 at 6:23 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- In the last six months, haulers with Portland Disposal and Recycling say they’ve noticed a big increase in people sneaking trash into their green compost bins.

The trend started around the time the city of Portland started its new curbside composting program, adding a composting bin but reducing garbage pickup to every other week.

The problem, say haulers, is that the garbage mixed in winds up contaminating the compost material.

KGW rode along with haulers and it didn’t take long to find offenders.

“We get everything,” said Jason Clark with Portland Disposal and Recycling.

One compost bin was filled to the rim with non-compostable trash.

Haulers say more people are breaking the rules since the city of Portland implemented the composting program.

“We get people that they'll hide their garbage on the bottom of the cart, but we'll find it when it dumps out,” said Clark.

One resident admitted he had tried to hide trash in his compost bin.

“I did it one time and they didn’t pick up,” said Thomas Armstrong, a North Portland Resident.

Armstrong admitted he was upset over the limited trash pickup.

“It stinks. You know, it stinks!” said Armstrong.

Haulers tag green bins that contain trash and leave them, but sometimes crews don't catch the garbage.

Metro, which collects the material and sends it off to composters, says it is concerned about the contamination getting into re-sellable compost. According to Metro, the costs of picking trash out of the compost could end up getting passed on to customers.

“It’s disturbing because we're going to get penalized for them,” said North Portland Resident Rod McGuire.

The city of Portland says that 144,000 homes are taking part in curbside composting and fewer than one percent are breaking the rules. The city calls the program a huge success but says those that don't comply could face fines.

KGW Reporter Keely Chalmers contributed to this report.

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