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Food Waste

Food waste is collected and turned into compost. Compost enriches soil, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and recycles nutrients. 

You can drop off food waste at our Project Oscar Community Composting drop-off locations, find pop-up drop-offs at farmers markets throughout the City, or compost at home. 

Your food waste has the potential to create a rich, black soil that helps plants grow. Composting food waste reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills. It also helps the environment by enriching soil, giving new plants nutrients to grow.

How to Collect Food Waste at Home

Food Waste at Home

Store food scraps in a closed lid container. It’s convenient to have your container close to where you produce food waste. Keep your container on your kitchen countertop, by your trash can, or in your freezer. You will bring your food scrap container to your local Boston community food waste drop-off, so make sure it is easy to carry.

There is a full list of what is accepted at each community food waste drop-off program website. Check the Project Oscar page or the farmers markets food waste drop-off website for details. Please be sure to review the lists of what is accepted before you start dropping off your food waste. It is important to only drop-off accepted items so our food waste can be used to make compost. 

If you would like, you can line your food scrap container with BPI-Certified compostable bags. These are available online and in most hardware and grocery stores. 

When you return home from dropping off your food scraps, wash your bin in the sink. Put a little bit of dish soap inside, and rinse a few times with warm water. Throw a bit of baking soda in the bottom of your bin to freshen it up!

Thank you for participating in our programs, and for doing your part to make Boston a zero waste city! 

Leaf and Yard Waste Composting

From April until the first week of December, the City collects and composts residents’ yard waste on specific recycling days. Follow the link below to learn how to properly set out yard waste for collection, and to view the 2022 leaf and yard waste calendar. 

leaf and yard waste dates

Community Garden Compost Request Form

The City of Boston provides compost to community gardens at no cost. Request your gardens compost here! 

Community Garden Compost Request Form

How to Make Compost at Home

Subsidized bins and buckets

Boston residents can buy bins and buckets at:

Boston Building Resources
100 Terrace Street, Mission Hill (617-442-2262, Ext. 1)

The company has three composting options:

  1. Kitchen Scrap Bucket ($15, plus tax)
  2. Earth Machine Compost Bin ($25, plus tax, with proof of Boston residency)
  3. New Age Compost Bin ($25, plus tax, with proof of Boston residency)

Learn more about these composting options on the Boston Building Resources websiteYou can also create your own compost bin at home.

Composting indoors

If you don’t have a backyard, you can still compost indoors:


The elements of a good compost pile include biodegradables, organic material, air, and moisture.  For the best results, follow these compost instructions. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection also has information on composting.

To build your compost, you will need nitrogen-rich “green” materials, like:

  • food scraps (but not meat, dairy, fats, and oils)
  • fresh grass clippings
  • weeds (not laden with seeds), and
  • coffee grounds.

You will also need carbon-rich “brown” materials, like:

  • straw
  • dried leaves
  • woodchips
  • sawdust
  • shredded paper, and
  • pine needles (pine needles should not make up more than 10 percent of the material in the pile).
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