How frequently will organic materials be collected?

Composting will be collected weekly, on the same day as your trash collection.

What is composting?

Composting is a natural process that breaks down organic materials, like food scraps and yard trimmings, into an earthy, nutrient-rich, soil-like material.

Why should I compost?

A recent study showed that almost half of everything residential customers send to the landfill could have been composted. Compostable material cannot break down in a landfill, as it would in nature or in a compost pile. Instead, it decomposes without oxygen, releasing harmful methane into the atmosphere. Organic material placed in green carts is transported to a local facility, where it breaks down into compost, can be used to help soil retain water and fertilize lawns and gardens without chemicals.

In addition to contributing to Austin’s Zero Waste goal, Curbside Composting may help residents save money on their utility bills. After putting food scraps and food-soiled paper in their green carts, customers will have less trash to throw away each week. This may allow them to downsize to a smaller, less expensive trash cart. Austin Resource Recovery offers four trash cart sizes – the smaller the cart, the less it costs each month. Learn more about pricing and size options.

How much am I paying for Curbside Composting?

Austin City Council approved a $1 monthly increase to the base fee in 2016. There has been no additional fee increase to fund the Curbside Composting collection program. We evaluate our cost of service to the customer every year to determine if a fee increase is necessary. We aim to provide our wide range of services while minimizing rate impact to the customer. Future fee increases are subject to City Council approval.

Customers can offset fee increases by choosing a smaller trash cart size. The majority of ARR customers have a 64-gallon trash cart and could save $76 per year if they downsize to a 24-gallon cart or could save $61 per year if they downsize to a 32-gallon cart *Please note: Your trash, recycling and curbside compost service fee is determined solely by the size of your landfill trash cart. Learn more about pricing and size options.

Can I opt out of the fee for the composting service?

No, Austin Resource Recovery curbside services are bundled and customers cannot pay less by opting out of one service.

What is included in the fee?

The base fee covers the following collection services:

  • Bulk (twice per year)
  • Large Brush (twice per year)
  • Recycling (Every other Week)
  • Composting and Yard Trimmings (Every Week)

Can I opt out of Curbside Composting Collection?

If you do not wish to use your new green cart you can call Austin Energy at 512-494-9400, and ARR will arrange for your green cart to be picked up. Please note that you will still be charged for the service whether you chose to participate or not. We ask that you give it a try for a week or two before making the decision to send back your cart. Remember that you can save money by using your recycling and composting carts correctly, and downsizing your trash cart size.

I was not able to attend an open house, how can I get a kitchen collector?

You don’t need to have the ARR kitchen collector to set aside your food scraps for collection, you can use a reusable plastic container, old coffee can, or any receptacle. You can also purchase a kitchen collector from local retailers or online.

How will Curbside Composting affect my Yard Trimmings Collection?

Your yard trimmings will still be collected weekly in your new green composting cart. We ask you fill the green cart first and bundle or place extras in lawn and leaf bags.

What will happen to the organic materials in my cart after the materials are collected?

After we collect your organic materials at the curb, they are transported to a local composting facility. Materials are placed in a large pile where microorganisms begin to break down the materials and heat up the pile to very high temperatures. After 12 months or longer, materials break down and transform into an earthy, soil-like material called compost. Compost is used to fertilize plants, gardens and other outdoor areas.

How is this service different from weekly yard trimmings collection?

The Curbside Composting Collection Program is an expansion of the department's current weekly curbside yard trimmings collection. Since 1989, Austin Resource Recovery has partnered with Austin Water Utility to compost yard trimmings collected at the curb into Dillo DirtTM. Curbside Composting Collection is the City's next step toward collecting additional organic materials at the curb. This service allows residents to place large quantities of yard trimmings, as well as food scraps and food-soiled paper, directly into a 32-gallon green composting cart. Material collected in the green cart is composted at a local facility. Please place yard trimmings, including leaves, grass clippings and small branches directly into the green cart.

[collapse title="What should I do if I can’t fit all of my yard trimmings in my organics cart?"]

First, be sure to put as many yard trimmings as possible into your green composting cart. The lid must be able to close. Consider saving excess leaves and grass clippings to layer with food scraps in the future. If you have additional yard trimmings, you may put them in paper lawn and leaf bags or in reusable containers no larger than 34 gallons. You may also tie small
branches into manageable bundles with string or twine and place them at the curb. Extra yard trimmings will be collected at no extra charge.

Should I recycle or compost my paper products?

Paper is a very valuable resource as it is both recyclable and compostable. Clean paper products, such as unwanted mail, glossy and matte office paper and cardboard can be recycled into new paper products.  Please place clean paper items into the blue recycling cart, so they can be recycled into new paper products.

Food-soiled paper, however, cannot be recycled into new products, but it is  compostable. Please place food-soiled paper, such as paper plates, cups, napkins, tissues and paper towels into your green composting cart. These food-soiled paper products will be turned into nutrient-rich compost.

For example, you could place the bottom half of a greasy, food-soiled pizza box into the green composting cart and place the clean, residue-free top half into the blue recycling cart. Or, you could place the entire pizza box in the green composting cart. However, you should not place the entire pizza box in the blue recycling cart, as it has some food and/or grease remaining on it.

How can I keep my composting cart clean?

You can use BPI-certified compostable bags in your kitchen collector, layer your food scraps and yard trimmings within your cart to absorb moisture; occasionally wash out your cart with mild soap and water; and sprinkle baking soda in the cart to help control odors.

How can I control odors in my cart?

To minimize odors in your green cart you can:

  • Rinse your cart with mild soap and water when necessary. Tip: Be sure to pour the dirty water onto the lawn and not down a storm drain!
  • Sprinkle baking soda in your cart.
  • Keep the lid closed at all times.
  • Set out your cart every week.
  • Keep your cart in a shaded area.
  • Line with leaves, paper or pizza boxes.

Why aren’t plastic bags accepted?

Plastic bags are not biodegradable and cannot be composted, you can use BPI-certified compostable bags in your kitchen collector.

My cart isn’t full. Should I still set it out at the curb?

Yes. No matter how full your cart is, the City encourages you to set out your cart every week to help keep your cart clean. The 32-gallon organics cart helps accommodate large quantities of yard trimmings during high debris seasons and also can deter animals from getting into and/or knocking over the cart. But if you aren’t able to fill the cart every week, don’t worry. Crews will still collect your cart, regardless of the amount of organic materials inside.

What are some suggestions for collecting and storing food scraps?

Collecting food scraps in a reusable container in the kitchen is an easy way to save leftovers for your green cart. Coffee cans, plastic food storage containers or compost collectors can be used. If you choose to collect food scraps using paper products, you can place them directly in your cart!

To reduce odors in your kitchen, try freezing food scraps like meat, poultry and fish in a reusable container until it’s time to take scraps to your cart. You can also:

  • Use BPI-certified compostable bags in your kitchen collector.
  • Bag food scraps in a plain paper bag to prevent scraps from sticking to the kitchen collector.
  • Collect food scraps in a cereal box or tissue box. Be sure to remove any plastic lining.
  • Wrap food scraps in a paper towel or old newspaper.
  • Wash your kitchen collector in the dishwasher or by hand after emptying.

To reduce odors in your kitchen, try freezing food scraps like meat, poultry and fish in a reusable container until it’s time to take scraps to your cart.

Where can I buy BPI-certified compostable bags?

The following stores have reported carrying compostable bags for sale:

  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Costco
  • H-E-B
  • in.gredients
  • Natural Grocers
  • Sam's
  • Sprouts
  • Target
  • TreeHouse
  • Wal-Mart
  • Wheatsville

Inclusion in this list does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any particular business by Austin Resource Recovery or the City of Austin. Austin Resource Recovery does not guarantee that businesses will have bags in stock at any given time.

I don’t have enough room to set my carts 5 feet apart. What should I do?

As a general rule, we ask that you set your carts 5 feet apart so our automated trucks can safely collect your materials. If you do not have enough space to set all three of your carts 5 feet apart, we ask that you set them out with as much space between carts as possible. Thank you for helping keep our drivers safe on the job.

I already compost at home. Should I still use my green cart?

We congratulate you for composting at home and encourage you to continue to do so. However, there are many items that we accept in the green organics cart that are not suitable for a residential compost pile. For example, meats, poultry, seafood, dairy products and bones should not be composted at home. We encourage you to add these items to your green cart each week!

I have leftover cooking grease and oil. Can I put them in my green cart?

No. Fats, oils and greases are not acceptable materials for composting. However, greasy foods and food-soiled papers can be placed in your cart. You can recycle cooking fats, oil and greases at the Recycle and Reuse Drop-Off Center.