PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The neighborhood surrounding a Southeast Portland recycling center is looking a lot cleaner. 

Members of the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association gathered on Saturday to pick up trash around WestRock Recycling off SE Foster Road and Woodstock. 

“They’ve actually hired our organization,” said David Potts, chairman of the group. “They make a small donation and we come out to clean up.” 

WestRock has been the subject of noise and mess complaints for years. 

Last year, Vance Dutton, who has lived across the street since 1984, told KOIN 6 News that the facility expanded its operations outside and since then, there’s been “more noise, more rats, more of everything.” 

Photos showed cardboard spilling onto the sidewalk and plastic strewn across the street. 

Neighbors hoped Metro, the government agency that has jurisdiction over recycling in the Portland area, would step in. The problem was Metro didn’t have extensive rules to regulate operations like this.

That changed on Jan. 1 when Metro granted WestRock and five other local recycling centers permits, which set standards for operations. After less than 2 weeks, neighbors said they had seen improvements. 

The neighborhood can expect conditions to continue improving. Potts said Saturday’s cleanup was only the first of many to come. 

“We’re going to do this weekly on into the future,” he said. “We’ll see how long we need to keep doing it.”