Compost Guidelines

Compost food scraps and yard trimmings in the gray cart. Weekly compost service is included with garbage service. Single-family residents have a 96-gallon compost cart. Businesses and multi-family properties can request a compost cart at no additional cost. Apartment and condo residents can also drop off food scraps at our community food scrap drop-off carts.

Composting food scraps is an easy way to reduce your household's climate impact and put your food waste to good use.


Compost-Cart.jpgGray Compost Cart Guidelines

Accepted items include: 

  • Food scraps (including meat, bones, shells and dairy) 
  • Food-soiled paper (pizza boxes and paper napkins)
  • Yard trimmings (cut down long branches - should not be sticking out of cart)
  • Compostable bags 

See our compost brochure(PDF, 857KB) for photos. Request a hard copy by emailing us at

Please help prevent contamination by removing fruit stickers, and only putting food and yard waste in the cart.

Help Make Good Compost

3 Simple Steps to Start Composting Food

1. Compost all your food scraps from food preparation
2. Compost all your leftover uneaten food
3. Never put plastic in your gray cart

Food-Scrap-Bucket.jpgReceive a Free Countertop Food Scrap Container

Countertop food scrap containers are available to residents at no cost. You may collect one by going to the Public Works desk located in the upstairs lobby of Kirkland City Hall (123 5th Ave, Kirkland, WA 98033).

What should NOT Go in Your Compost

  • NO plastic bags in your gray bin! Only use compostable bags like BioBags or paper bags.
  • Absolutely NO pet waste or diapers. Throw away feces in the garbage.
  • No plastic, glass, or metal.
  • Food service products marked "compostable"

Simply because an item is labeled compostable does not guarantee we accept it. There are many different systems for composting materials, and not all materials break down properly in every system.

Many compostable products accepted at businesses are not accepted in residential curbside carts. Too many people were confused by product labels and put in items that cannot be composted.

Food Scrap Composting for Businesses and Apartments

multifamily compost cart with compostable liner inside enclosure Food scrap collection service is available at no additional cost to qualifying businesses and apartments and condos. Property Managers and residents with approval from their Property Manager can request to add food scrap service.

Apartment and condo residents who don't have compost service at their property, and are unable or uninterested in starting it, can bring food scraps to our community food scrap drop-off locations.

Common Composting Questions

Why should I compost?

Compost to save money.

Composting helps the climate.

Compost enriches soil.

  • The process of breaking down food and yard waste produces compost, a nutrient-rich fertilizer.
  • Composting food and yard waste "closes the loop" so the nutrients in them can be returned to the soil.

Compost filters pollution.

Won't food scraps smell bad on my countertop?

Follow these tips to keep your countertop food scrap pail smelling fresh all year:

  • Empty it into your gray food yard cart multiple times a week
  • Use a compostable bag so you can toss the liner with all the food scraps and food-soiled paper into the gray cart
  • Wash your countertop food scrap container regularly
  • Sprinkle baking soda over food scraps or wrap them in newspaper to absorb odor and liquid
  • Consider storing your container in the refrigerator or even freezer, especially during hot summer months: food scraps stay drier and last longer

What happens to my food and yard waste?

All your food and yard waste goes to Lenz in Stanwood, where it's turned into compost in a matter of weeks. The average household's food scraps and yard trimmings produce approximately five yards of compost each year.

Decomposition requires the right ratio of carbon "browns" to nitrogen "greens". The composting facility has to adjust their recipe of browns and greens to keep the process running smoothly. 

What about backyard composting?

Composting in your backyard is a great way to keep the nutrients from your yard trimmings in your own garden.

Types of Composting

There are three methods that people can use to recycle their organic waste:

Curbside Pickup: Placing your compostable materials in your gray cart and Waste Management will whisk them away each week to a facility for processing into compost

Backyard composting: Using a composting bin to collect your organic waste and composting it right in your backyard

Vermicomposting: Using a worm bin and worms to break down your food and yard waste into compost

How Backyard Composting Works

Create compost from a combination of "brown" and "green" materials, kept appropriately moist and turned at certain intervals.

  • brown materials are carbon rich, such as dead leaves, branches, or twigs
  • green materials are nitrogen rich, such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, and coffee grounds

If you want to compost food scraps, a worm bin may be a better choice.

Learn How to Compost in Your Backyard

Local non-profit Tilth Alliance offers  plans for building a backyard composting system and worm composting system, and also offers classes teaching gardening skills like composting.

How else can I support the compost system?

Composting all your food scraps and yard waste is the first step. Use compost in your own yard to return nutrients to the soil, suppress weeds, and reduce watering needs.