Partnering With Portland State University to Fight Waste

The Port of Portland has made incredible strides in reducing waste and introducing innovative and creative solutions, thanks in large part to a decade-long partnership with Portland State University. Through PSU’s Community Environmental Services program, student consultants work for the Port in one- or two-year terms and gain experience solving real-life waste management problems.

Though they serve all Port facilities, their main focus is the Port’s primary waste generator – Portland International Airport. With 10,000 employees and an average of almost 40,000 travelers passing through each day, PDX is like a small city. There is no typical day for the CES students. They do everything from analyzing data, to running outreach and education campaigns, to rolling their sleeves up and conducting waste sorts that determine how they can help airlines, tenants and Port staff reduce waste. Recent accomplishments include:

  • Helping to launch PDX’s food donation program which provides over 1,800 meals per month to local meals programs
  • Conducting waste assessments for airlines and airport terminal tenants
  • Hosting annual clean up events for tenants to dispose of large and bulky items
  • Introducing and enhancing liquid collection stations at security checkpoints
  • Completed a coffee cup recycling feasibility study in partnership with Starbucks Coffee Company
  • Achieved a Zero Waste event at the 2012 Seaport Celebration
  • Helping the Port’s headquarters office building become a Zero Waste facility (90 percent or greater landfill diversion)

“This exposure to real-world applications during academic training is at the core of our mission and gives students the distinct advantage of applying their knowledge prior to graduation,” says Eric T. Crum, director of CES. Graduates of the program have gone on to hold senior positions in waste management and sustainability at regional government agencies and other large organizations. 

Stan Jones, Land Quality Manager, 503.415.6679

Related Green Side Stories:
Food Donation Takes Off at PDX

Learn More:
Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project
Seaport Celebration a waste minimization success