Garbage and Recycling Enclosures


See Zoning and Development Ordinance (ZDO), Section 1021

The first step is the design review pre-application meeting. In this informal discussion, county staff (including a solid waste/recycling representative) and appropriate service providers (e.g., water, fire, sanitary sewer, surface water) provide information and requirements to help applicants fine-tune their project plans.

If the project goes forward and is deemed feasible by county staff and the Design Review Committee, the next step for the applicant is to revise the site plan to meet any conditions of approval. Typically, one of the conditions will be to "meet the requirements relative to trash and recycling enclosures" and get a "sign off" from the Community Environment Division Solid Waste and Recycling staff.

Applicants should take advantage of our assistance. Susan Terry, of the Community Environment Division Solid Waste and Recycling staff, can help you determine the size and placement of the garbage/recycling enclosure(s). She will consult with the franchised solid waste collector for your project area. She also can provide detailed sample plans. 


It is important to communicate early in the design process since a failure to meet ZDO Section 1021 can delay the issuance of a final Certificate of Occupancy. Failure to meet the requirement also may result in a request to rebuild the enclosure.

Basic Requirements

  • Size and access
    Developers must consider the size of containers and receptacles that will be required, and service vehicle accessibility to the enclosure.
    Service trucks are usually large (approximately the size of fire trucks) and they make frequent trips. A service truck must be able to get to the enclosure, pick up the appropriate containers (without requiring staff to move all the containers and receptacles) and leave the site with a minimum of backing up. (Clackamas County Zoning and Development Ordinance (ZDO) Section 1021 provides details.)
  • Building materials
    Masonry, brick, or chain link and slats -- there is a variety from which to choose. The idea is to eliminate or reduce the visual impact of the containers.
  • Pad
    The enclosure pad must be Portland cement concrete and poured on level ground. Concrete can hold more weight and take more abuse than asphalt.
  • Gates, bumpers and "no parking" signs
    Gates must open fully and be free of obstructions. Gate doors must be able to be locked in the open position. Interior bumpers protect the enclosure from container impacts. "No parking" signs and striped curbs help keep the enclosure accessible to collection vehicles.

What to Avoid

  • Inadequate size
    If the enclosure is too small, people tend to leave bins outside, which is not allowed. If the containers are jammed inside a small enclosure, it is very difficult for collection staff to remove them for trash and recycling collection.
    A larger enclosure provides room to store more recyclable materials. Because unlimited recycling is free with trash service, this can save a great deal of money.
  • Poor siting
    An enclosure at the end of an alley or in a place without adequate maneuvering room for service vehicles creates a dangerous situation for collection staff, as well as for vehicles and pedestrians. Typically there is no other person aboard a garbage truck to guide the driver out of a narrow driveway or around a blind corner.
  • Inadequate gates
    The gates need to be large enough to pull a container straight out. For most commercial structures, this means an 8-foot wide opening. Gates that do not lock in the open position can swing shut.
  • Inadequate pad
    A Portland cement concrete pad minimizes damage caused by the containers. It should be level and well-drained. It is difficult to move heavy containers over gravel, mud or rutted asphalt. The percent of grade for access to the pad shall not exceed 3%.
  • Failure to post no parking signs
    Garbage and recycling trucks typically arrive early in the morning, but this is not always the case. Personnel changes and holidays can change a collection schedule. If other vehicles are parked in the way it may be impossible to collect the trash or recycling.
  • No bumpers
    Bumpers on the ground in the interior of the enclosure protect it from the impacts of the heavy containers.

Waste Prevention Assistance for Businesses

Clackamas County provides free technical assistance to businesses on how to reduce waste, reuse materials and recycle unneeded materials. Businesses will receive free desk side recycling boxes and learn how to set up an efficient inside program that enhances the use of the outdoor enclosure. Call 503-557-6363 for a free consultation

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Office buidling enclosure Enclosures do not have to be unsightly. This enclosure was designed to complement a new commercial office building.
Large stone enclosure with service door Another large, well-designed enclosure, this includes a smaller service door. It encourages employees and janitorial staff to put materials inside the enclosure because they do not have to open the heavier gates.
Cedar sided enclosure Built with the same cedar siding as the professional office building, this spacious enclosure looks good and works well. Posts provide extra protection.
Accessible enclosure for service vehicles Using design elements from the main building, this enclosure sits in the middle of a parking lot. Service vehicles have good access to it.
Large enclosure with building design elements This large enclosure uses design elements from the new municipal building.
Example of a chain link and slat enclosure An example of a chain link and slat enclosure.
Insuffiently small enclosure for a strip mall Too small for a group of strip mall tenants, this enclosure has been damaged. Tenants leave trash outside, creating an unsightly and potentially rat-infested area. Furthermore, it is not conducive to recycling.
Small, unsightly enclosure Small and unsightly, this enclosure does not meet the needs of this multifamily dwelling.
Open containers at a shopping mall Approved before ZDO Section 1021 - this shopping mall places containers in full view of the street. It is unsightly for the residential development across the street, it promotes illegal dumping, and is prone to contamination of recyclables.
Poorly designed enclosure with collector moving container Don't try this at home! The collector is pulling out a 1,200 pound container that could have been picked up mechanically if the enclosure had been well designed.