Survey: Portlanders losing patience with garbage service

PORTLAND, Ore. - Heather Butler misses weekly trash collection in Portland.

"The biggest thing we have are diapers," Butler said.

Butler runs Little Feets Daycare from her North Portland home, and said the dirty diapers can make waiting two weeks for garbage collection tough.

"There have been some weeks where it's a little bit frustrating," Butler said. "Imagine when it was really hot, it wasn't all that great."

Butler said she likes the city's new emphasis on composting, but she's less satisfied with garbage service now that weekly trash collection is no more.

She's not alone.

Many Portlanders are losing patience with the city's garbage and recycling services, according to a new survey by the city.

Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of curbside composting and the end of weekly trash pickup.

Nearly 3,500 Portland residents took part in the 2012 Community Survey, which was conducted by the city auditor's office. The results show significantly lower satisfaction with the quality and cost of trash and recycling pickup.

In 2011, 78 percent of North Portland residents surveyed rated the quality of trash service "good" or "very good". This year, that percentage dropped to 61 - the largest difference in the city from a year ago.

The same goes for cost. Last year, 51 percent of North Portland residents surveyed gave the city high marks for the cost of garbage service. This year, the number dropped 18 percent to just 33.

Both candidates for Portland Mayor said they like how composting is reducing waste, but they've both discussed a weekly garbage collection option for those who need it. It's unclear how much money that would cost, or who would pay for it.

Portland resident Chad Schermerhorn said adapting to the new system was challenging at first, but not anymore.

"Now that we've been doing it for a while, it works really well," he said. "I think that we just need to learn how to do it right and it becomes habit."