This toolkit provides an overview of organics recovery, with basic data
and examples of outreach materials to aid in the development of a residential food
scrap collection program that will be administered by a city and/or municipal waste
management district already collecting yard debris.
Resources outlined on this page are examples to help prepare and develop a successful residential composting program– areas covered include source separating food scraps, collection bins, where to find compostable bags, examples of signage, questions to ask your local composting facility manager, educational flyers, brochures and instructional videos.
While elements of this package can be used in other sectors, such as commercial settings, schools, public venues and special events, the scope for this package is designed for residential food scraps.
Americans waste about 25 percent of all food purchases.
It’s a growing problem with profound financial and environmental impacts. When we throw away food, we also waste all the water and energy used to produce, package and transport food from the farm to our plates.
Here are some resources to help you reduce food scrap in your community, from our friends in King County, WA -
This section contains documents detailing best management for larger scale composting and a presentation to share with stakeholders (city/town board, agency directors, planners, civic groups, etc). The goal of this tool is to show why a city should add a curbside food scrap collection program to any already existing yard debris collection program, and generally what is involved.
Bulleted “checklist” of the elements that a city needs to include in a program; please note, this list is taking a 20,000 foot level approach; this is not a recipe for a program but, rather, an ingredients list.
Elements of a Successful Food Scrap-Yard Debris Program
Evaluate and identify the markets for the compost produced from the program
Collect Yard/Food scrap weekly (to reduce chance of pests and odors).
Consider collecting MSW bi-weekly (to encourage diversion).
Offer a kitchen container to collect food scraps.
Allow compostable bags to reduce the “yuck” factor.
Develop material to educate residents on do’s and don’ts
Offer in multiple mediums
Printed flyers, magnets, website (including video tutorials)
If offering new containers, put label on container so residents know what to include.
Update communications on a quarterly basis to keep them fresh.
Measure participation rate on a regular basis to improve program results.
Consider making voluntary at first. Switch to mandatory as momentum builds.
Organize a summit to meet with residents, politician, haulers, home owners living near proposed food compost sites, processors, etc. to work out details. They can even help to change state regulations for food composting.
Identify and communicate the motivators (i.e. lower trash fees, increased diversion rates to hit recycling goals, etc.).
Start small: conduct a pilot program if you do not have many programs in your area to learn from.
Include food scrap costsin a general trash fee to encourage participation (e.g., so residents use the service to get their money’s worth), or use a pay-as-you-throw (PAYT)rate structure that rewards residents financially for reducing their trash generation. Download Checklist here
Additional materials to aid in the development of a successful residential collection program:
Think you are alone in seeking to compost residential food scrap? Think again!A number of municipalities in the US that are already doing food scrap collection; this section provides a general overview of how many households and residents currently participate.
Statistics Regarding Curbside Pickup of Food Waste:
BioCycle magazine has been conducting surveys on residential food scrap collection for several years, leading the way in both tracking this sector and promoting its growth. The results of BioCycle’s most recent survey (2012 data) revealed the following statistics and trends:
Communities with curbside food scrap collection: about 200
Households currently served by curbside food scrap collection: over 2.55 million
Currently 18 states have municipalities collecting residential food scraps
Largest number of programs in the West, in part due to the “ease” of adding food scraps to an existing cart-based yard debris program(versus starting from scratch)
For a complete list of municipalities, including data on the number of households per community, types of food scraps collected, and interviews with program leaders, download the full report at BioCycle’s website.
To read the full article follow one of two links below:
Conversations with your Composter download Overview of questions that municipalities and compost facilities must address prior to implementing food scrap collection programs.
1. What is the estimated tonnage per year needing to be processed (based on estimates or waste audits)?
2. What method will be used to process the material…open windrow, aerated static pile (ASP), in-vessel or anaerobic digestion (AD)?
3. Will the food scraps get sent to an anaerobic digester before composting?
4. How will the fee structure be based? Tonnage, contamination rate thresholds, put or pay?
5. Is the feedstock only residential material, or will the program be open to food scraps from the commercial sector too?
6. Will the residents be given containers to collect their food scraps (i.e. kitchen pails and for the curbside carts)?
7. What are the plans for ongoing education to increaseparticipation and keep contamination to a minimum (e.g.. stickers,fridge magnets, printed media, website etc.)?
8. Will certified compostable liners be allowed to help with the“yuck factor,” to address odor issues and increase participation?
9. How will odor complaints from the composting facility be addressed?
10. Will residents be encouraged to use a deodorizer in their bin?
11. How will contamination be handled (both at the curb and at the composting facility)?
12. What percentage of contamination will be allowed?
13. Will the MSW collection services encourage participation,andcapture rates (e.g.. PAYT pricing, bi-weekly collection of trash and weekly collection of SSO, etc.)
14. Will leaf and yard debris be allowed in the same bin as the food scrap?
15. Are the local elected officials properly educated on the benefits of a residential SSO program? A tour of the composting facility (and landfill/incinerator) would be good.
16. What are the markets for the finished compost? Will there be an opportunity for residents to purchase it or will it only be made for commercial customers such as golf courses, agricultural, landscaping, retail stores, etc.?
17. Are private haulers being used, and if so are they on board for the program (e.g., will they help enforce contamination problems at the curb)?
18. What changes might need to be made in the truck fleet to pick up SSO?
19. How will lower tonnage going to the landfill/incinerator affect municipal contracts with haulers, landfill owners, etc. and how will that be handled to avoid potential conflict?
20. If a pilot program was done, were the results made public?
21. What is the mood of the local media towards the program and how will that be managed?
22. Are you aware of the regulations governing organics processing and are you in compliance?
23. Who is responsible for testing of the finished compost and how often will it be tested?
Here are resources on the different manufactures of bins and liners for curbside residential food scrap collection, as well as a list of manufactures, contact information, pictures and table of suppliers, pictures of caddy, bins, and totes.
Resources here help answer the question: What does it mean to be certified compostable? Areas covered include Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) certification, what to look for in terms of labeling, and how to know which products are really compostable.
This section focuses on the benefits of compost and has great tools to quickly educate the community if your city considers piloting a residential curbside food scrap collection program – community members should learn why they should take action to participate and what the benefits are of composting and compost.