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Food Scraps & FAQ

food scraps program

Click here to download the brochure (PDF)


Are there special pail liners available?
At this time, there are no special pail liners available. Therefore, please use only newspaper, paper bags, or no liners in your kitchen pail. Residents may also use cardboard ice cream containers or non-plastic milk containers for food scrap collection, and then place all the materials in the green waste cart. Food-soiled waxed paper and cardboard can be composted with food scraps. Please remember to keep plastic out of the green waste cart.

Can I put my kitchen pail at the curb for collection?
No. The kitchen pail is for indoor use in your kitchen; please empty pail contents into the green organics cart. The green cart will be collected weekly on your scheduled collection day.

Can I use a plastic bag to line the kitchen pail?
Please do not use plastic bags to line your food scrap pail. The plastic does not break down in the composting process, and contaminates the finished compost product.

Do I have to participate in the food scraps program?
Participation in the food scraps program is voluntary. The food scraps program was added to the yard waste program as a convenient way for residents to compost the food scraps instead of sending them to the landfill. In addition, using the food scrap program may help residents decrease the amount of garbage that is placed in the trash cart. This may save residents money by allowing them to switch to a smaller trash cart.

Does all paper go into the organics cart?
No, only certain food-soiled paper, like paper towels and napkins, 100% paper (uncoated) paper plates and cups. Newspaper and paper bags used to line the pail can go into the green waste cart as well as cardboard ice cream cartons and non-plastic milk jugs used as food scrap collection containers. Please remember to keep plastic out of the green waste cart.

I'm concerned about possible smells in my kitchen pail and green cart if I use the food scraps program.
The following guidelines will help minimize the presence of animals and insects:

Kitchen Pail

You may want to line your pail and/or wash it with warm soapy water in your sink after emptying it. Baking soda is a non-toxic deodorant and can be sprinkled in the kitchen pail. In warmer weather, the pail should be emptied more frequently.

Green Organics Cart

More tips to minimize the presence of animals, insects, and odors:

  • Keep the lid closed.
  • Wrap the food scraps, in newspaper or a brown paper bag, before putting them into the cart. Some residents "layer" their food scraps with the yard waste during the week.
  • Freeze or refrigerate the food scraps (in newspaper or paper bags please). Then, place them in the organics cart when you roll it out to the curb.
  • Wash out the organics cart regularly (please wash and rinse cart over a landscaped area like lawn or shrubbery, not near a gutter or storm drain as the rinse water might wash down the storm drain which leads directly to local creeks and the Bay. Do no use soap or detergents.)

I'm concerned about the possibility of ants, flies or maggots in my kitchen and/or cart.
Here are a few simple tips to avoid pests:

  • Keep both the kitchen pail and the organics cart tightly closed (the kitchen pail has a latch that snaps closed).
  • Empty the kitchen pail frequently and set your organics cart out every week on your scheduled collection day.
  • Follow instructions above for washing both your kitchen pail and/or organics cart after you empty it.

What are food scraps and food-soiled paper?
Food scraps are leftover or unused foods that are produced in your home. Food-soiled papers are 100% plain paper products (uncoated) that have come into contact with food. Here is a partial list:

Food Scraps

  • Bread
  • Coffee grounds
  • Dairy products (butter, cheese and yogurt)
  • Egg shells
  • Fruit
  • Leftover cooked or raw foods
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Vegetables and peelings
  • Meats and bones
Please no plastics or plastic bags, metal or foil, glass, liquids, diapers, or trash.

Food-Soiled Paper

  • Only food-contaminated paper in green cart
  • Most clean/dry paper goes in recyclables cart
  • Coffee filters (paper type only)
  • Egg cartons (food contaminated paper cartons only - no foam cartons)
  • Newspaper (for food lining or wrapping only)
  • Paper bags (for food lining or wrapping only)
  • Paper cups (uncoated)
  • Paper napkins
  • Paper plates (uncoated)
  • Paper towels
  • Pizza boxes
  • Tea bags

What if I have no yard waste? Can I put just food scraps in my organics cart?
Yes. You may wish to wrap the food scraps in newspaper or paper bags to help keep the cart clean.

When may I start the food scrap program?
You can start as soon as your food scrap pail is delivered.

Why use the kitchen pail? What is it for?
The pails are provided for convenient collection of food scraps and some food-soiled paper in your kitchen. Food scraps are then emptied into the green waste cart for pick-up.