Compost Collection Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.  

 

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.

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

 

Lost or damaged cart?

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

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

The 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.

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 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."

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.

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.

How much does it cost to participate in the Denver Composts program?
Participants may make $29.25 Quarterly Payments (every three months) or one $117.00 Annual Payment. There is a $10 discount if the Annual Payment is prepaid by February 15th of that year.
 
The majority of participants choose to prepay for the year and pay online. It saves money, paper and time! To submit a payment online, go to www.DenverComposts.com.
For more payment information go to Compost Service Payments.
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.
See Acceptable Materials & Helpful Tips for a detailed list of what is accepted in the Denver Composts program.
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.

Compost Collection Program Questions

For questions about the Compost Collection program, please call 311 (720-913-1311) or email DenverRecycles.

Compost Expansion News

Recently, Denver City Council and the Mayor approved the proposal to expand composting service beginning in January 2014. We greatly appreciate everyone who took the time to reach out to their City Council members to express their support for residential composting in Denver. Updated information on compost collection areas is now available at Compost Collection Schedule & AreasResidents within those areas may pre-register for the program prior to the January 2014 launch. Also, homes in current compost service areas that were previously not able to subscribe because compost routes were full, will also be eligible to pre-register for the compost program.

Currently, the compost collection service program is only available to a limited number of homes in service areas that were part of the original pilot program areas launched in 2009. Today the compost service program areas cover about 10% of all the homes serviced by Denver Solid Waste Management. The 2014 expansion areas will cover about another 10% of all the homes serviced by Denver Solid Waste Management, bringing us to a total of about 20% of Denver homes within compost collection service areas. Over time, Denver Solid Waste Management hopes to continue expanding the compost collection service program until the program is available city-wide.

Thank you for your patience as we work to grow this program and please stay tuned for program updates.

Press Release 12-10-13

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