• Waste Reduction

    • Waste Reduction

      Reducing waste is a key part of the district's drive to create a culture of sustainability and conscientious care for the Earth. Reducing waste is highly visible and is a "gateway" environmental action that can set up our students for a lifetime of climate friendly behaviors. It's also an action that lends itself to collaboration -- it takes a whole group of students, teachers, custodians, and support staff all working together to have success!

      Waste reduction is also a critical piece of sustaining and caring for the environment  -- waste adds methane to the air, inhibits access and enjoyment of outdoor spaces, and harms natural habitats like lakes and rivers that are home to a wide range of species. Responsible waste management ensures a healthy environment not just for now, but for future generations as well. 

      PPS staff is working to ensure that all schools have clear signage and information about what and where to recycle, plus the resources and support they need to collect food scraps in the cafeteria. As a "gateway" environmental action, some of this work has to be grass-roots. We have found that the best way to get a school recycling and collecting food scraps is for a team of students and teachers to become champions of the project. If you have a team that's ready, or you want help getting a team together, let us know and we can help: sustainability@pps.net.

      More questions? Check out the FAQ at the bottom of this page. 

Waste Graphic
  • For more information about how PPS sorts waste, please see the City of Portland's webpages on garbagerecycling, and food waste. For waste services, PPS is considered a commercial entity by the City of Portland.



Degrees and Certifications:

Waste Sensors

Waste sensors have been installed by Resource Synergy & Eneveo on over 400 PPS dumpsters, including those for garbage, recycling, and food waste! These sensors collect data that can be used in classrooms, reduce unnecessary hauls, and save custodians' time. The data collected will inform engagement campaigns to increase overall diversion rate and increase the items we recycle and food scrap we collect.



Degrees and Certifications:

Food Scrap Collection

All Portland Public School kitchens are required to properly collect and dispose of food scraps. Currently, cafeteria food scrap collection, otherwise referred to as "front of house" or "student-side" food scrap collection, is an opt-in program. Numerous PPS schools currently participate in front of house food scrap collection!

If you are a staff member or community member interested in implementing student-side food scrap collection in your school's cafeteria, please email sustainability@pps.net. PPS Sustainability is able to provide a Food Scrap Collection Toolkit and in-person support for food scrap collection implementation.



Degrees and Certifications:

Cafeteria Reusables

PPS is committed to using reusable items in the cafeteria when possible. Factors that are considered when determining what reusables can be used in a given cafeteria and kitchen include, but aren't limited to: what dishwashers exist in the kitchen, staff and volunteer capacity, and kitchen size.

Currently, PPS Nutrition Services is working to expand the number of schools with reusable utensils for lunch.

If you're looking to reduce single use items at your school, consider creating a reusable party pack for teachers. These packs usually consist of a classroom's worth of plates, utensils, and cups, and can be borrowed for classroom parties or other classroom events.

Sorting FAQs

  • Where does PPS waste go after collection?

  • Why is our recycling collected in plastic bags?

  • Why is “recyclable” not always recyclable?

  • What happens if the wrong things go in the recycling bin?

  • Do recyclable containers & bottles need to be rinsed or cleaned before they are recycled?

  • Why does recycling correctly make a difference?

Nutrition Services FAQs

  • Why are breakfasts served in packaging?

  • What is the district doing about food waste?

  • Can kitchen staff reuse their disposable gloves? Can they be washed like washing hands?

  • What are other ways that the Nutrition Services department is implementing sustainable practices?

  • How many schools have reusable trays, silverware or cups?

  • If a school is interested in starting reusable silverware, who should be contacted and what are the next steps?