Compost Guidelines

You can compost food scraps and yard trimmings in your gray cart. Weekly compost service is included with your trash service. Single-family residents have a 96-gallon food / yard waste cart. Businesses and multi-family properties can request a food scrap 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.jpgWhat can I put in my gray food and yard waste cart?

food scraps with compostable bag All compostable items should go in your gray food+yard cart. You can compost: 

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

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

Please only compost items on our accepted list. When items go into the gray cart that don't break down, they wind up in the finished compost. Some pieces can be sifted out, but most are too small for the screens. That's why you sometimes see fruit stickers, plastic pieces, and bits of glass in compost.

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.jpgRequest a Free Countertop Food Scrap Container

We are providing no-contact doorstep delivery of free countertop food scrap containers to residents during the pandemic. To request one, please email your address to Your container will be delivered within 2-3 weeks.

    What Should NOT Go In Your Compost

    • NO plastic bags in your gray bin! Only use compostable bags like BioBags or paper bags. See accepted 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. "Biodegradable" and "natural" are not the same as compostable.

    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.