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Compost Collection Frequently Asked Questions

We've noticed that our compost cart often gets picked up at 10 AM.  Does this mean we can start putting our compost cart out later than 7AM on our collection days?

No. The time a driver arrives to empty your compost cart depends on many factors and may not always be  the same. This is why it is important to set out your cart by no later than 7 AM, as it ensures your cart will be ready for collection no matter what time in the day the driver comes.

 
How often do the compost carts get emptied?

We provide weekly compost collection all year round, even during the winter months.  Compost collection is on the same day of the week as your recycling collection but weekly rather than every other week.

Where do I put my green cart on collection day?

Your compost cart collection set out location is the same as your recycling cart collection set out location.

 
CURB SET OUT: 
  • Place your cart in the street adjacent to the curb in front of your house. The front of the cart should face the street.
 
ALLEY SET OUT:
  • Do not block access to your neighbor’s driveway, gate, garage or property.
  • Place your cart at least four feet away from any trash containers, fences, cars or other obstructions.
  • Make sure the front of the cart faces the alley.
 
If you are still not sure where to set your compost cart on collection days, call 311 (720-913-1311) or email DenverRecycles@DenverGov.org

 

Yard debris: Grass clippings, leaves, plant trimmings, branches (no larger than 4 feet in length and 4 inches in diameter), flowers, houseplants, weeds and garden trimmings.

Food: Baked goods, bones, bread, butter and margarine, cake, candy, cereal, cheese, coffee grounds, cookies, corn cobs and husks,  couscous, dairy products, eggs and eggshells, fish and fish parts, flour, fruits, grains, gravy and sauces, herbs and spices, jams and jellies, mayonnaise, meat and meat products, nuts and nut shells, oatmeal, pasta, peanut butter, pizza, popcorn, poultry, pumpkins,  quinoa, rice, salads, shellfish, sugar, syrup, tea bags, vegetables, watermelon, yogurt and other processed food like left over pizza or burritos, and more.

Non-Recyclable Paper: Used paper plates, paper cups, tea bags, coffee filters, facial tissue greasy pizza boxes (non-greasy pizza boxes should go in your recycle cart), paper towels, paper napkins, wax paper and waxed cardboard (like waxed produce boxes, not regular corrugated cardboard boxes).

Other Miscellaneous items: Cotton balls, feathers, hair (pet and human), wine corks (natural), wooden chopsticks, wooden popsicle sticks and wooden toothpicks.

What is the green kitchen pail and how should I use it?

image of food waste in kitchen compost pailThe green kitchen pail is given to Denver Composts participants to collect food and non-recyclable paper in the home.  It is designed so that you can easily scrape leftover food off of your plate into the pail.  The contents of the kitchen pail should be emptied into your green cart. Do not put your kitchen pail out for collection.

 
How can I keep my kitchen pail clean?

Keeping your kitchen pail clean is simple.  Make sure you empty it into the green cart regularly.  You can line the pail with newspaper, a paper bag, or paper towel to help keep it clean.  The pail is dishwasher safe but only in the top drawer; hand washing is best.  You can also purchase small biodegradable, cornstarch bags  to line the pails.  Make sure you buy the right bags if you chose this option.  All bags used for compostables other than plain paper bags, must carry the official BPI logo (Biodegradable Products Institute) to be approved for use in the composting collection program.  The BPI compostable logo lets the composting collector and processor know that products with this label have been tested to ensure that they will compost quickly, completely and safely.  For more information visit BPI Products Institute.

 
Replacement kitchen pails?

Unfortunately the funding for the compost program is very limited and supplying replacement kitchen compost pails not in the budget for this program.  Metal popcorn tins or small plastic containers with lids make great substitutes.  There are several types of "kitchen compost pails" for purchase online from a variety of vendors.

 

Will the compostable material smell?
Compostable material does have a smell. It’s the same stuff you put in your garbage, but now it’s just in a different container.  Odor is often caused by too much moisture. You can minimize odor by:
  • Ensuring you set your cart out for every collection.
  • Draining as much liquid as possible from organic material.
  • Keeping your cart clean.
  • Burying your food waste underneath some yard debris.
  • Wrapping food scraps with newspaper or placing in a paper bag before putting it in your cart.
  • Freezing leftover meat and fish scraps and waiting to put them in your cart until your collection day.
  • Waiting to clean out your refrigerator until the day before your collection day, rather than the day after. 
 
Won't the green cart attract bugs and rodents?

The green composting cart is designed to be pest-resistant with thick plastic and a tight-fitting lid.  If you make sure the lid is always closed, then your composting cart should be at least as secure as your regular trash container or bag.   If you have problems with bugs and rodents around your trash now, you may experience some problems.  If you do not currently have problems with pests, you should not experience any additional problems with your green cart. Compost can attract fruit flies. 

 
Who will clean the green cart?

It is the resident’s responsibility to clean their cart.   A simple rinse with the hose every couple of weeks should keep the cart clean.  A great idea for cleaning your green cart is to use a broom to reach the bottom.  You may also help keep your cart clean by lining it with newspaper or brown paper yard waste bags.

Compost services are $29.25 per quarter (every three months).  A discounted annual payment option of $107 ($10 off) is available for participants that pre-pay for services January through December.
 
The majority of participants choose to pay online. It saves money, paper and time! To submit a payment online, go to DenverGov.org/CompostPayment.

Quarterly schedule is as follows: 1st Quarter is January to March; 2nd Quarter is April to June; 3rd Quarter is July to September; and 4th Quarter is October to December. The $107.00 Discounted annual payment option available for accounts with services January through December only.

Please note, if services are cancelled for non-payment the resident is responsible for contacting Solid Waste Manage to notify of payments submitted and to arrange for services to be restored.

Compost payment made on credit cards show up as "CITY&CTYOFDENVERONLINE 720-913-9306 CO"  

To cancel compost services or transfer compost services to a new address, please contact Solid Waste Management at 311 (720-913-1311) or DenverRecycles@denvergov.org.
 
When transferring services, please contact Solid Waste Management prior to your move.
 

If your compost services have been cancelled and you wish to restore services, please contact Solid Waste Management at 311 (720-913-1311) or DenverRecycles@denvergov.org.
 
Please note, if service are cancelled for non-payment the resident is responsible for contacting Solid Waste Manage to notify of payments submitted and to arrange for services to be restored.
 

When enrolling for compost collection service the resident hereby agrees to pay quarterly payments of $29.25; understands that no part of the service fee is guaranteed to be refunded when services are cancelled for any reason; agrees to contact the City & County of Denver prior to cancelling or transferring services; acknowledges that the green compost cart remains the property of the City and County of Denver; and acknowledges that the green compost cart may be removed for failure to make service payments or if its use is deemed inappropriate by the City & County of Denver.

Why can't I bag my organic material in a plastic bag before putting it in my green cart? 

Plastic is a serious contaminant for composting.  All the compostable material is ground into fine pieces.  When plastic is in the mix, we get small pieces of plastic that are hard to remove.  Plastic is not compostable and will not break down in the composting process.

 
Are there special bags that are accepted in the composting collection program? 

Traditional plastic bags made from petroleum are not accepted in the program as they can't be composted.  However, there are compostable bags made from plants that are accepted in the program, along with paper bags. These compostable bags are plastic-like and waterproof.  If you choose to buy compostable bags to use in your kitchen pail or green cart, please make sure you purchase the right bags.  All bags used for compostables other than plain paper bags, must carry the official BPI logo (Biodegradable Products Institute) and be green in color to be approved for use in the composting collection program. The BPI compostable logo lets the composting collector and processor know that products with this label have been tested to ensure that they will compost quickly, completely and safely and being green in color makes it easy for the composting collector and processor to distinguish them from non-compostable plastic bags.  (Of course, newspaper and paper bags are still an easy way to keep composting cleaner and to save you money.)  Compostable bags may be purchased online and at some Whole Foods stores and Safeway stores.  Call your local store in advance to see if they carry them.  

 

Please do not place any plastic bags in your compost cart.

Most supermarkets in Denver take back their own bags for recycling, so check with your local store to find out if they accept plastic bags for recycling. Consider reusing your plastic bags. Many stores will give you a 5 cent credit for each bag reused.

Please do not put paper items that are accepted in your purple recycling cart in your green composting cart.

Paper that is soiled and can't be recycled should be composted, for example greasy pizza box bottoms, newspaper used to wrap fish or used paper plates. However, all clean paper normally accepted for recycling should go in the purple cart.  Although some of these items are compostable in small amounts, it is more environmentally beneficial to recycle paper items in your purple recycling cart.

Remember that paper plates, napkins, towels and tissues are NOT accepted for recycling in the purple cart.

What about overflow/oversized materials?

At this time we can only accept materials placed in the green cart, as the carts are emptied by an automated truck.  We are looking to establish a City drop-site for larger amounts and sizes of yard debris in the future.  For now, residents can find local companies operating yard debris drop sites by searching our Recycling Directory under "Yard Waste/Debris."

How compost collection different from backyard composting?

The organic material collected through the composting collection program is sent to a commercial composting facility in Keenesburg, Colorado that is run by A1 Organics.  There, organic material is ground into fine pieces by an industrial grinder and then composted under controlled conditions. 

So materials that you wouldn't normally put in a backyard composting bin, such as meat, bones, processed foods and soiled paper such paper napkins, can break down quickly in a commercial composting facility and contribute to making quality compost.  After composting is complete A1 Organics performs a number of analytical tests on the compost, using an independent laboratory, to ensure the compost is a quality product before selling it.

Denver Recycles encourages you to continue backyard composting if you're already do so. You can still compost lots of materials in your backyard while putting your meat, dairy, grains, and food-soiled paper products and excess yard waste out for pick-up in your green composting cart.

There are no real environmental benefits to disposing of food waste through the wastewater system. In fact, it requires extra water usage to do so. Also, food waste can be the source of many plumbing problems. Disposing food waste through a garbage disposal increases the likelihood of clogs, especially if the food waste contains unsaturated fats, which solidify at room temperature and can build up inside pipes.

Placing food items in your green composting cart is a better alternative both environmentally and for your home.  Backyard composting is good too, just not for the meat or fat items.

The organic material collected through the composting collection program is sent to a commercial composting facility in Keenesburg, Colorado that is run by   A1 Organics.  There, organic material is ground into fine pieces by an industrial grinder and then composted under controlled conditions, so it can break down quickly and contribute to making quality compost.  After composting is complete,  A1 Organics performs a number of analytical tests on the compost, using an independent laboratory, to ensure the compost is a quality product before selling it.

 
The finished compost is then sold to farmers and to retailers.  If you are interested in purchasing A1 Organics compost, it can be purchased retail from  Pioneer Sand and Gravel locations.

Yes, compost from local suppliers is available for purchase at several retailers.

Local Class I and II Compost Suppliers

Organic material from Denver's collection program is sent to a facility run by A1 Organics. Compost from A1, which may include material from Denver residents, can be purchased at Pioneer Sand and Gravel locations.

Where should I store my green cart in between collection days? 
  • Your green cart must be stored on your property, out of public view as best as you can.
  • Do not store your green cart in the alley or on the street.
  • Store your green cart in your garage, breezeway, side of house, shed, or other location.
  • Carts continually left in alleys or on the street may be removed.

Lost or damaged cart?

Please call 311 (720-913-1311) or email Denver Recycles to schedule a repair or replacement.

Each compost cart has a unique serial number and each unique serial number is assigned to a specific address.  

The 11-digit compost cart serial number is printed on the front of each cart in white lettering.

What should I do with my compost cart if I am moving?

Composting carts are the property of the City and County of Denver.  Each cart is assigned by serial number to an exact address.  If you are moving, you must contact us to cancel compost service and return your cart.   Even if you are moving within Denver, please do not take your compost cart with you, as this is still a very small pilot program and there is a very good chance your new address will not be eligible for service. 

What do I do when my collection is on the same day as my scheduled street sweeping?

When your collection day and street sweeping day are both scheduled for the same day you have three options for setting out your containers.

image of a street sweeper
Option 1: Set your containers on the apron (edge) of your driveway.
  • Your containers should be placed on the apron of the driveway only when collection days conflict with designated street sweeping days.
  • Make sure that containers are as close to the street as possible and not on the sidewalk.  If containers are placed too far away from the street the automated collection trucks will not be able to reach them.
  • The handle of the container should be facing away from the street.
  • Make sure that your containers are at least 2 feet from any obstructions such as other containers, lampposts, trees or mailbox posts.
image of trash cart at end of driveway

Option 2: Set your containers off the street on the edge of the curb-line.

  • Your containers should be placed off the street only when collection days conflict with designated street sweeping days.
  • Make sure that containers are as close to the street as possible and not on the sidewalk.  If containers are placed too far away from the street, the automated collection trucks will not be able to reach them.
  • Make sure that containers are at least 2 feet from any obstructions such as other containers, lampposts, trees or mailbox posts.
image of recycle cart and trash can off curb

Option 3: Set your containers on the opposite side of your street.

  • Your containers should be placed on the opposite side of your street only when collection days conflict with designated street sweeping days.
  • Container wheels should be against the curb and the handle of the container should be facing away from the street.
  • Make sure that your recycling containers are at least 2 feet from any obstructions such as other containers, lampposts, trees or mailbox posts.
  • Collection trucks will run both sides of the street on overlapping collection/street sweeping days.
image of recycle and trash cart curbside
 
Moving your containers off the street on sweeping days will reduce the in & out "snaking" by the sweepers and enable Public Works to keep your street clean.
 

 
Compost Collection Program Questions
Call 311 (720-913-1311), visit online at 311 Help Request or PocketGov.

TTY Service: 720-913-8479

How to use your kitchen compost pail (8 sec. video)

Denver Compost Guide

Denver Composts

Service Instructions

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