Five ways you can help reduce waste at PDX

When people across the country think about the city of Portland, a few stereotypes might come to mind—some perhaps inspired by a famous TV show set in our city. One stereotype we are proud to own is that of a region invested in waste reduction and recycling.

As an organization that promotes travel and trade, we recognize both industries can impact the environment and believe it is our responsibility to minimize that impact on our friends and neighbors.

That is why the Portland International Airport has taken several steps to reduce waste. Here are just a few of many examples.

  • A partnership with Portland State University’s Community Environmental Services results in innovative waste minimization practices. PSU students take the lead on waste reduction projects, which include separating materials for recycling and reuse and conducting food waste studies at PDX. Over the past five years, the team has diverted nearly 6,500 tons of waste. That’s about how much 1,300 elephants weigh!
  • PDX restaurants partner with a local nonprofit, Urban Gleaners, to donate unsold, ready-to-eat food. Since the program began in 2013, PDX has donated more than 435,000 meals. When the expansion is complete this summer, you could fill every seat at Providence Park more than 17 times with those meals.
  • All PDX parking lot shuttle buses run on compressed natural gas. We also operate hybrid and electric cars and use cleaner-burning biodiesel or lower sulfur diesel on other airport vehicles.

Waste Minimization Team sorting recylcing at PDX airport

But we can’t do this alone.

There are plenty of ways you can help reduce waste when you travel through PDX. Here are five things you can do right now to pitch in.

1. Bring your own mug to fill up your coffee or tea. Not only does it help reduce paper cup consumption, you might get a discount as well! Flying Elephants, Starbucks, Stumptown, Peet’s, Blue Star, Portland Roasting and Burgerville all provide discounts to those with a reusable mug.

2. Empty your beverages before recycling bottles or throwing away cups. We have beverage collection units—drink sinks, as we like to call them—at both security checkpoints and at Concourse C (West) and D food courts. Dumping liquids prevents the paper materials in recycling from being contaminated. It also saves our janitors’ backs, as the storage bags weigh a lot less!

3. When in doubt, throw it out. If you aren’t sure if something is recyclable, just put it in the trash. This ensures our recycling isn’t contaminated.

4. Limit single use items. If you don’t need a straw, plastic utensils or condiments, ask for your meal without them.

5. Think before you flush. Our dual-flush toilets at the airport give you the option to pull up to use less water when you flush and push down when you need a little more water to wash everything away. If you pull the handle up, you’ll help us conserve thousands of gallons daily!

Portland is a place full of possibility. Thanks for helping keep it that way by playing a part in minimizing the airport’s impact on our neighbors.