Compost Right. It Matters.

Seattle has a reputation for having some of the best recyclers in the nation, and that includes composting as well! Seattle residents help both the environment and the economy by composting their food scraps and yard waste.

As important as it is to compost, it is more important to compost right. Follow these tips to compost right and keep compost thriving:

Graphic showing step 1 of composting
Put food into the container and keep plastic out.
Graphic showing step 2 of composting
Recycle empty, clean, and dry containers.
Graphic showing step 3 of composting
Put loose plastic bags in the trash.

Food in, plastic out: The best way to compost right is to put food and food-soiled paper in the compost bin and keep plastic out. Plastic bags, containers, and plastic packaging should never be put in the compost because they contaminate compost with micro-plastics that people use on their lawns and gardens.


Top 5 Items to Compost

Whether its food scraps or ends, moldy or rotten, food can always be composted. Food-soiled paper like greasy pizza boxes can be composted, but clean cardboard boxes should be recycled. Just make sure you recycle right.

Here are the most Common things for your compost:

  1. Meat, fish, poultry, bones
  2. Dairy products (yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.)
  3. Vegetable and fruit trimmings
  4. Egg shells, bread, pasta, and coffee grounds
  5. Food-soiled paper and cardboard like pizza boxes, paper coffee filters napkins, paper towels, brown paper bags and paper plates


When in Doubt, Find Out

Check our compost guidelines to ensure you're putting the right materials in your compost container. If you are still unsure if it goes in the compost, put it in the garbage to avoid contamination. You can also look up any item in our Where Does It Go? Tool.

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How to Collect Compost at Home

Kitchen Compost Collection Containers: Using a container in your kitchen is a great way to collect your food scraps and allows you to compost as you prepare, cook, and clean up. Containers like old coffee cans, ice cream tubs, and plastic pitchers are great for collecting food scraps until you are ready to put them in your compost cart. You can also buy containers made from plastic, stainless steel, or ceramic to collect your scraps.

Storing your compost until it is ready for the green cart: Store your container wherever is most convenient for you, on a countertop or even in the refrigerator or freezer. Lids help keep odors contained and pests away, and compostable bags make it easier to take your compost out to your cart. Only put approved compostable bags in the compost.

Why Compost?

More than 30 percent of garbage is food waste that could have been composted. When you compost, you keep valuable resources out of the landfill and avoid methane emissions that contribute to climate change.

When compost is returned to the soil, it adds nutrients, retains water, increases yields when growing food and stores carbon. Using compost on lawns and gardens also reduces pesticide use, reduces stormwater run-off, and returns important nutrients to the soil so more fruits, vegetables, trees, grasses and other plants can thrive. Learn more about the benefits of composting.

Graphical image of green Compost icon with circling arrows around an apple core

Prevent Food Waste at Home

A lot of that waste happens in our own homes. We throw away leftovers or forget about food in the back of the fridge. That wasted food has big impacts on our environment, our community, and our wallets. But there’s good news! You can make a difference by making small changes at home. Love your food, don't waste it. Find tips for shopping smart, storing food, and using leftovers.

Grpahical image of the Love Food, Stop Waste logo in the shape of a red heart that resembles an apple

Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.