PORT Profiles: Urban Gleaners - PDX’s Food Donation Partner

by appell 12/10/2015 12:10 PM

January 2016 UPDATE: The PDX Holiday Food Donation Drive raised $388.11 for Urban Gleaners, enough to cover fuel and vehicle costs for 30 round trips to PDX to pick up donated food! Check out how the program stacks up against other airports across the country in this USA Today article.

Urban Gleaners is PDX’s partner in the food donation program – connecting tons of donated food from airport businesses to families in need. But what happens to donated food once Urban Gleaners picks it up from PDX? In this behind-the-scenes look, we learn about the program background and logistics of delivering food to people that need it.

After regularly seeing a lot of good food in compost bins at the airport, the Port’s Waste Minimization team partnered with the PDX Concessions Operations to implement a food donation program. The program at PDX allows restaurants to donate unsold, ready-to-eat food products such as sandwiches, salads, parfaits, baked goods, and produce. So far, Portland International Airport businesses have donated over 180,000 pounds (90 tons) of food, or over 120,000 meals, since the program began in February 2013.  

The Waste Minimization Team is a partnership between the Port of Portland and Portland State University’s Community Environmental Services program. The team leads innovation in waste minimization at PDX and other Port facilities. Closing the loop and connecting good food to families helps achieve the Port’s environmental policy and sustainability focus.

Erin Anderson (left), Kaileigh Westermann (middle left), and Grace Stainback (far right) of the Port of Portland’s Waste Minimization Team toured with Diana Foss (middle right), Urban Gleaners Director, to learn more about the food donation process and where food is delivered after it leaves PDX, November 2015.

Urban Gleaners makes three weekly stops at PDX to pick up food from a common refrigerator and shelving area that serves as centralized, storage location for donated food from all participating airport businesses. Once picked up, the truck brings food to the Urban Gleaners facility where it is sorted for distribution.

At the Urban Gleaners facility, a large row of refrigerators serve as holding areas for perishable food. Red means it is ready for volunteer sorting, yellow means the food can wait a day to be distributed and green means the food is ready to go out into the community.

Once sorted, Urban Gleaners loads food boxes in their trucks to deliver to 40 different locations in the Portland Metropolitan area. Primary recipients include the Food to Schools program and emergency food relief agencies. They also stock pantries in apartment buildings where there is a knownneed in the community. A new partnership with the CareOregon Food Rx program inspired experimenting with prepared foods, making chili, soups and casseroles, and freezing them until ready for distribution. Urban Gleaners does not charge for food. As Tracey Oseran, founder and Executive Director says, “People are hungry, and they need this food as they have nothing to eat.”

Shelves hold non-perishable food items and organize boxes ready for delivery to drop-off locations.

PDX airport vendors are one of the largest weekly donors, according to Diana Foss, “Our partnership with the PDX food donation program expanded the number of people we have been able to reach with good, nutritious food.” Many other Portland organizations contribute, including New Seasons, Dave’s Killer Bread, Simpatica Catering, Hopworks Urban Brewery and Whole Foods locations. Professional groups with leftover food after catered events frequently call for pick-up. Urban Gleaners has a dynamic, committed group of organizations that support their mission ”to help alleviate hunger by collecting edible, surplus food that would otherwise be thrown away and redistributing it to agencies that feed the hungry” Check their website for the latest information: http://urbangleaners.org/partners

The Portland Fruit Tree Project donates fresh produce to Urban Gleaners, such as this recently donated bag of persimmons.

Several PDX businesses have teamed up to offer a Holiday Food Donation Drive December 20-26, 2015 by offering passengers the opportunity to donate $1 to Urban Gleaners with their purchase. Partners include Burgerville, Elephants and MOD Pizza. In addition, Panda Express is sponsoring a special luncheon for an Urban Gleaners school partners in early December 2015. Port of Portland and PDX businesses are proud to partner with Urban Gleaners to help feed families in need this holiday season, and all year-round!

10 tips for a greener office from the Port’s sustainability experts

by appell 11/3/2015 1:59 PM

The City of Portland recently recognized the Port of Portland’s headquarters building for environmental excellence through the Sustainability at Work Certification program. It takes 45 actions to achieve “Gold” status and the Port achieved more than 60! The Port’s platinum LEED-certified building helps the organization exceed many requirements. Yet offices large and small can implement some of the Port’s sustainable workplace strategies. Here are some suggestions for your office:

  1. Use power strips with a personal occupancy sensor, so electronics shut-off when not in use (think  speakers, monitors or heaters)
  2. Use a small garbage can and a large recycling container
  3. Add aerators to faucets or upgrade to water-efficient fixtures
  4. Provide secure bike storage
  5. Offer preferred parking for high-efficiency vehicles and carpools
  6. Allow for telecommuting options or a compressed work week
  7. Serve lunch meetings “family-style,” so there is not individual packaging for sandwiches
  8. If you are a tenant in a building, work with the property manager and co-tenants to have a team approach
  9. Offer a reward system and publically recognize sustainable behavior 
  10. Provide separate containers for composting food waste

A living machine that treats wastewater, a fleet of hybrid and electric vehicles, and the PDX food donation program also make the Port’s program unique. The City made certification criteria more stringent in 2015 and requires renewal every three years. Each category of information and education, materials and waste, energy, and transportation now has required elements to make sure each certified organization applies the most important strategies. Learn more on the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at Work website.

Providing a small garbage can and large recycling container can help employees reduce waste.

The HQ Living Machine recycles 750,000 gallons of wastewater each year.

Port and Portland State University celebrate 10 years of success and innovation

by timmel 6/12/2013 4:19 PM

It takes a special kind of person to be willing to dig through the garbage on a regular basis. Thanks to a partnership with Portland State University, this week marks the tenth year that those special people have been making a difference at Portland International Airport. Through PSU’s Community Environmental Services program, student consultants work for the Port of Portland in one- or two-year terms and work alongside Port staff to gain experience solving real-life waste management problems. Although they serve all Port facilities, they focus on the Port’s primary waste generator - PDX. The airport is like a small city with 10,000 employees and 35,000 people passing through every day. It's a unique setting for developing innovative and creative waste solutions on a large-scale.

Through the students' long-standing support, the Port has made incredible strides in reducing waste. They have played a large role in designing and implementing PDX’s waste collection systems and composting program. They have been involved in researching recycling options for coffee cups, conducting waste assessments for airlines and airport terminal tenants and holding annual clean up events for tenants to find ways to recycle and repurpose large and bulky items. Most recently, the students helped launch a highly successful food donation program through St. Vincent dePaul of Portland and helped redesign liquid collection stations at security checkpoints, dramatically increasing their use by travelers.

The partnership truly provides benefits for both the Port and PSU students. “I attribute the longevity and success of this program to two things: the Port’s impressive commitment to keep pushing the needle forward on these issues, and the great students that CES continues to attract. I can’t think of a better embodiment of PSU’s motto, 'Let Knowledge Serve the City,'" says Eric T. Crum, director of the CES program.

Although the program has been in place for many years, there is no typical day for a CES student working at the Port. They do everything from collecting and managing data, to running outreach and education campaigns, to rolling their sleeves up and conducting waste sorts that determine where there are opportunities for program improvements. Their versatility is invaluable and we look forward to another ten years of success and collaboration.

For more information on the partnership between PSU and the Port and a full list of the students’ accomplishments, visit: www.pdx.edu

For additional news on the partnership's anniversary, visit:
Oregon Live

Port headquarters building goes for gold

by timmel 1/22/2013 9:26 AM

The Port of Portland LEED Platinum headquarters building has another metal to add to its list of honors - gold. The Port's headquarters building recently received a gold certification through the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s Sustainability at Work program. The gold certification is the highest level that can be achieved through the program which recognizes local businesses and organizations for their leadership in helping make Portland one of the cleanest, most sustainable cities in the country. The certification criteria include numerous actions related to energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management, transportation, procurement and employee education. The actions were verified during an onsite visit with a Sustainability at Work advisor.  

“The Port’s achievements are impressive both in the design and construction of an incredibly energy and water efficient headquarters building and ongoing waste minimization efforts that have diverted 84 percent of the building’s waste stream from the landfill,” said Sustainability at Work advisor, Paul deBlock.

The Port received the BEST Award for projects in 2004, 2006 and 2011, under a similar City program and the headquarters building has received numerous honors including the Oregon Sustainability Award. However, this certification recognizes both the thoughtful considerations the Port incorporated into the building itself and the ongoing, day-to-day operations within the building.  

Seaport Celebration: a Zero Waste event

by timmel 8/24/2012 2:22 PM

Last weekend, Terminal 4 was host to another successful Seaport Celebration. The annual event is a festive day of family-oriented activities put on by the Port of Portland and many of our community partners and terminal operators. Though the weather was unseasonably mild, people of all ages turned out to enjoy interactive displays, games, jet boat tours and a cruise on the Portland Spirit. This year’s event was a first-rate success in another regard.

We have been steadily improving upon waste minimization efforts at our headquarters building, with a goal of achieving Zero Waste status. This is no small feat when you consider that our main office is home to about 450 employees on any given work day. We also strive to minimize waste whenever possible at Port-sponsored events and this year we are proud to report that Seaport Celebration was a Zero Waste event.

After tallying the numbers, the event achieved an impressive 97 percent waste diversion rate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency threshold for Zero Waste status is a 90 percent or greater diversion rate. Much of this success is due to dedicated Port staff and the efforts of the Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project. PTAP staff is part of Portland State University’s Community Environmental Services program and work in partnership with Port staff to reduce landfill-bound waste by implementing recycling, composting and other waste prevention programs.

Related Links

Zero Waste Alliance

PSU - Community Environmental Services - Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project

PDX Teams Up with Starbucks to Explore Coffee Cup Recycling

by linsta 11/22/2011 2:35 PM

More than 6,000 hot beverage cups travel through PDX daily, resulting in over 2.2 million cups sent to the landfill each year. Because most hot beverage containers aren’t accepted into Oregon’s recycling stream, a large amount of productive material is wasted. That is why the Port, Starbucks, and HMS Host (operators of Starbucks at PDX) joined forces to help find a recyclable solution, one cup at a time.


Port Aviation environmental compliance manager Stan Jones and the PDX Recycles Team worked with Starbucks as part of a national effort to find a solution. Our goal at PDX was simple: Gather enough cups to conduct an initial study to determine if the hot beverage cups could be accepted into the recycled cardboard stream.


The pilot program collected nearly 500 pounds of used coffee cups at PDX over a two month period. Cups were sent to the Longview Fiber paper mill for a trial run. The results showed that hot beverage cups could indeed be pulped at the Washington mill and potentially accepted into the recycled cardboard production stream. Next, Starbucks will test a larger load to determine how a higher percentage of cups affects the overall pulping process and material mix.


This marks a major milestone in finding a solution to recycling hot beverage cups in Oregon. Here in Portland, we love our coffee AND recycling. Strategies that promote both are always encouraged, and we are pleased to work Starbucks and HMS Host on this project.


CNG Now Fueling Compost, Recycling and Trash Pickups at PDX

by wrayr 8/15/2011 4:07 PM

Gresham Sanitary Service, which provides waste hauling services for the Port, is the state’s first trash hauler to use compressed natural gas in its vehicles. The latest addition to the company’s fleet services transports the Port’s garbage, recycling, and food waste to regional transfer stations while running on the clean-burning alternative fuel. Pictures below are of the truck’s inaugural visit to the airport.