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Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project

All photos courtesy of The Port of Portland

Partner:  Port of Portland

Start Date: 2003

Duration: Current

The Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project (PTAP) provides hands-on support and operational assistance for all Port of Portland facilities, with a focus on the Portland International Airport (PDX).  PTAP staff work to reduce landfill-bound waste by implementing recycling, composting and other waste prevention programs. Project staff partner with Port employees, airlines, airport tenants, janitorial staff, waste haulers, and product suppliers to achieve the Port’s waste minimization Targets and Objectives. The project is based at the Portland International Airport (PDX).

To create an accurate picture of the waste being generated and/or diverted, PTAP staff collects, manages, and analyzes waste data from all Port facilities, reporting its findings on an ongoing basis. The project develops innovative pilot programs and initiatives that encourage waste reduction and facilitate the Port’s role as a national leader in sustainability. Programs focus primarily on four areas: Airport Concessions, Public Areas, Airlines, Administrative. See below for a list of accomplishments in each program area.

Airport Concessions:

  • Implemented back-of-the-house food waste collection in 2004 with restaurant tenants at PDX Terminal and later incorporated offsite partners (such as hotels and flight kitchens) into the food waste collection route. This resulted in significant landfill diversion at a net cost savings to the Port of Portland;
  • Established Biannual Clean Up Events for airport tenants resulting in 10-15 tons of materials being diverted from the landfill on an annual basis;

Public Areas:

  • Developed the North Terminal Food Court Collection, one of the first airport food waste/organic material collection initiatives in the nation;
  • Developed and installed Liquid Collection Stations at Security Checkpoints: an innovative waste reduction approach that was prototyped by PTAP project staff and resulted in significant labor savings.  Similar stations have been installed in airports across the country;
  • Significantly improved public recycling systems by installing containers in consistent locations with necessary visual cues;


  • Supported airlines in their efforts to develop on-board recycling programs (notably with Delta, Alaska, and Horizon). Support included outreach, education, and waste assessments;
  • Collected nearly 10 tons of periodicals from Lufthansa German Airlines PDX/Frankfurt flights from 2004 to 2009 and distributed to regional German language programs at schools, colleges and universities;

Administrative Areas:

  • Designed and installed the recycling system for Port’s LEED Platinum Headquarters including organic waste and all-plastics collection;
  • Facilitated the development of recycling systems for airport tenants and facilities;

Recent Accomplishments:

  • Introduced a comprehensive recycling program for the new Port Headquarters office building, the new LEED Platinum home to the over 400 Port staff. As a result, the buildings waste diversion rate has significantly improved;
  • Coordinated multiple Zero Waste events including the 2012 Seaport Celebration attended by 1,500 people and the Port of Portland Holiday party for over 400 employees;
  • Completed a study with Starbucks Coffee, as part of a national effort to help find a recyclable solution for hot beverage coffee containers, and to work toward a recycling solution to the more than 6,000 cups of coffee sold daily at PDX;
  • Completed a 24-hour waste audit of the overall PDX waste stream; documenting and weighing nearly 9 tons of materials disposed in a single day;
  • Assisted Alaska Airlines and JetBlue in completing an on board waste assessment of numerous flights;
  • Supported/facilitated the first PDX tenant transition to all-compostable serviceware (Elephant’s Deli);
  • Introduced a three month Sort It and Win rewards program for food and beverage employees that contributed to a 41% increase of food waste from the previous year (as of August2012);
  • Redesigned the liquid collection stations based on passenger surveys and suggestions and was featured in national publication, Airports Magazine, about liquid collection re-design;
  • Coordinated a “durable cup” initiative for Port employees; and
  • Significantly expanded recycling and waste minimization collection at Port maintenance facilities;
  • PTAP staff played an integral role in a work group convened by the Federal Aviation Administration to develop guidelines for establishing and improving airport recycling/waste reduction programs. The resulting synthesis document highlights challenges andmakes recommendations for the FAA to consider in coming years.
Overall Program Highlights:
  • Waste diversion rate for the PDX Terminal is about 30%, up from less than an estimated 15% in 2001;
  • Waste diversion rate at Port HQ is approximately 82%, up from an estimated 76% in 2010;
  • Diverted over 2,488 tons of food waste from the PDX Terminal and its "Partners in Food Waste Diversion" between 2004 and 2012. The PDX Terminal itself has diverted over 1,400 tons of food waste to date;
  • Recycled, reused, or donated 80% of materials collected at Port sponsored PDX Cleanup Events (staged to help airport tenants dispose of large, unwanted bulky, and unusual items). When these events began, all of these materials were sent to the landfill; and
  • Diverted over 100 tons of liquid waste from the landfill to date due to liquid collection stations pioneered by the PTAP Team beginning in December of 2008. Estimated annual labor savings for reduced janitorial services is over $30,000. Airport Magazine Aug/Sept 2012.

Port of Portland website
Portside Summer 2011 “The Green Team” page 10

To learn more about the Port Technical Assistance Project Contact CES.