Composting 101

Understand composting

Why do we compost our food scraps? Because not only does it take waste out of our landfills and reduce methane emissions, it turns those scraps into compost and bioenergy. It’s the right thing to do.

What GOES in A Green Bin?

  • All food, including produce, grains, dairy, and meat
  • Prepared food (leftovers)
  • Shells (egg shells, seafood shells) and bones
  • Small amounts of fat, oil, and grease
  • Wooden chopsticks, skewers, popsicle sticks
  • Coffee grounds and filters, tea bags
  • Food packaging, such as food-soiled pizza boxes, waxed cardboard, and paper bags
  • Food-soiled paper, like napkins, and food-soiled newsprint (often used to line a kitchen catcher)

 Download printable pdf poster

No Plastic Bags

The Organics Disposal Ban Applies to Everyone in the Region

Since January 2015, all residents and businesses are asked to separate food scraps from regular garbage. This applies to apartments and condos as well as single-family homes.

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Why Is It A Problem If Food Scraps End Up In The Garbage?

Food and other organic materials can:

  • Create methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that adds to global warming. In the landfill, buried under layers of waste and without access to oxygen, food can't decompose properly.
  • Use up a lot of precious landfill space, which is already limited across the region. Creating more landfill space is undesirable yet more than 30% of what we send to landfill is compostable organics.
  • Make waste-to-energy processes less efficient because of their high moisture content. About a third of the region's waste is dumped in the waste-to-energy facility.


Composting is nature’s way of recycling, turning organic waste into a natural humus, which looks a lot like soil. This process requires natural organisms like fungi, bacteria and oxygen and results in humus, some heat, and a small amount of carbon dioxide. Want to see the heat? Turn over a pile of leaves on a cool fall day, and watch the warm steam rise.

Putting organic waste into plastic bags and burying it in a landfill blocks out oxygen, stops this natural process from occurring, and causes the production of methane gas. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas linked to climate change. Sending your organics to a processing facility, or using a backyard composter, allows the natural recycling process to happen and helps keep the planet cool.

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