Curb to Compost

CCREF Toolkit

Toolkit For Including Food Scrap Collection in an Existing Yard Debris Program.

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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.

Table of Contents

Food Scrap Prevention Bins and Liners
Overview of a curbside collection program Certified Compostable
Elements of a Program – checklist Videos
Composting Infrastructure Outreach and Education
Conversations with your Composter

Food Scraps Prevention

Overview of the EPA’s food recovery hierarchy starts with source reduction…

Food Recovery Hierarchy

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 -

Example Shopping list
Recipes for Leftovers

Food Storage Guide
Online Shelf-life Guide
Food Product Dating
Learn More – List of Resources

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Overview of a curbside collection program

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.


Adding Food Scraps to Yard Waste Collection Program
Best Management Practices (BMPS) for Incorporating Food Residuals into Existing Yard Waste Composting Operations
Food Waste Diversion & Utilization

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Elements of a Program – checklist

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

checkmarkEvaluate and identify the markets for the compost produced from the program
checkmarkCollect Yard/Food scrap weekly (to reduce chance of pests and odors).
checkmarkConsider collecting MSW bi-weekly (to encourage diversion).
checkmarkOffer a kitchen container to collect food scraps.
checkmarkAllow compostable bags to reduce the “yuck” factor.
checkmarkDevelop 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.

checkmarkMeasure participation rate on a regular basis to improve program results.
checkmarkConsider making voluntary at first. Switch to mandatory as momentum builds.
checkmarkOrganize 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.
checkmarkIdentify and communicate the motivators (i.e. lower trash fees, increased diversion rates to hit recycling goals, etc.).
checkmarkStart small: conduct a pilot program if you do not have many programs in your area to learn from.
checkmarkInclude 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:

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Composting Infrastructure

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:

BioCycle subscribers
Visitors who do not subscribe to BioCycle

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Conversations with your Composter

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?

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Bins and Liners

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.

BPI approved compostable bags
Benefits of Compostable Bags
Recycling Bins Vendors
Food Scrap Kitchen Containers
Company Kitchen Container Dimensions Capacity Website
BioBag BioBag MaxAir Composting Bucket 8″H x 9 1/2″W x 8″D 3 gallons
Busch Busch Kitchen Compost Bins 8 ¾”H x 8″W x 7½”D 2.4 gallons
EcoSafe EcoVision KitchenCaddy Bin 14″H x 7.25″ W x 9.13″D 2 gallons
4 ORBIS Kitchen Collector® 8.5″H x 8.5″W x 12″D 2 gallons
Rehrig Rehrig Pacific 2 Gal. Food Waste Container 10.75″H x 9.5″W x 10.25″D 2 gallons
Sure-Close Sure-Close, Inc. Sure-Close 11″W, 9.5″H, 8.5″D 1.9 gallons
UCan UCan UnTrash® Can 8-6/10″H x 9″W x 9.5″D 2 gallons
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Certified Compostable

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.

Certified Compostable / BPI links:

The Compostable Logo:
The BPI Certification Process:
ASTM D6400 Standard:
Biodegradable vs Compostable vs Degradable:

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Educational video archive with tips to community members on how sort and what goes in the green versus blue bin, and where organic materials go once picked-up by Sanitation workers.

How To/Sorting Videos:

Curbside Compost

The Journey of Your Food Scraps

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson Sorting Garbage

Food scrap and yard waste composting at the curb

How to Pick the Right Bin for Recycling, Composting

San Francisco’s Zero Waste Inspectors

What’s Compostable?

What Goes Where? Recycling, Composting, and Trash!

Food Waste Composting Training

NYC School Food Waste Compost Program Instructional Video

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson

What Goes Where Video

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Outreach and Education

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.

Examples of public outreach
Bus Wrap Recycle More
Bus Wrap Sticker/magnet

To read more about some of the innovative outreach used in San Francisco, read “Food Waste Diversion Promoted On The Street”, (BioCycle)


Do’s and Don’ts of Composting:
Poster for yard debris and veggies curbside recycling – In English & Spanish
SF compost 11_x_17_poster

How to Sort:
How to Sort Compost Flyer
Compost Your Veggies (English version)
Curbside What to Recycle

Brochures, pamphlets, flyers and posters:
Instruction on how to sort with a two-bin system:
Two-Cart Pilot Brochure
How-To’s of Residential Compost Program for Community Members:
SF compost 8_5_x_11 flyer
Portland Brochure
Examples of downloadable brochures and pamphlets
NYC Organics Collection Program

Great visual graphic depicting where the organics go….and what it becomes.
compost cycle

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