Tigard adds curbside composting and increases glass recycling pick-up frequency

Glass recycling collection is increasing to twice monthly beginning in September, and starting in 2023, Tigard residents can add food waste to yard debris bins in a new curbside composting program.

“I like the idea of yard debris and food waste being picked up bi-weekly,” said Youth Councilor City Council Aishiki Nag. “It might encourage Tigard citizens to be more aware of what their food waste looks like. On a broader environmental spectrum, one of the largest personal wastes comes from food. If we have the option to compost, it might make people more cognizant of cutting it down a little bit.

The additional composting service generates a 35-cent monthly rate increase, adding just over $4 annually to the city’s cost of garbage and recycling. The combined pick-up will continue on the current every other week schedule.

Last month, in a hearing spread across two meetings, the Council explored multiple possible changes to services and annual rates, deciding to keep 2023 rates unchanged except for the additional compost fee.

In 2021, Pride Disposal Company and Waste Management, the companies responsible for Tigard’s trash collection, had a composite profit rate of about 14.5 percent in 2021, slightly higher than the typical 8 to 12 percent.

When aggregate profits are outside of the typical margin of targeted returns, city officials review customer rates to evaluate for possible price changes.

Chris Bell of Bell and Associates told Council the high profits last year were not unique to Tigard.

“Most cities in the Portland Metro Area reported a significantly higher rate of return,” he said. “There were a couple of reasons, the biggest being the increase in value of collected recycling.”

He anticipates rising fuel costs, rising labor costs and supply chain delays that have reduced both companies’ fleet sizes to shrink 2022 profits in 2022 to around 10 percent.

Bell warned leaving prices static in the short term rather than upping them incrementally despite the hauler’s high profits could leave customers with a steep rate increase down the line if the haulers raise rates sharply to counter falling profits.

“Why is it that customers pay for a projected decrease when profits were almost 15 percent this year,” Mayor Jason Snider asked. “I have trouble with the concept that we always increase (the price) when it’s favorable, but don’t decrease it when it should be favorable to the customer.”

Council also declined to add more frequent yard debris pick-up, arguing that while cans sometimes fill quickly during the late Spring and Summer gardening seasons, the temporary surge would not justify the higher fee for a service many households wouldn’t use.