Zero Waste Marin understands that diverting green waste and food scraps at home isn’t always easy. Some items are confusing, like greasy pizza boxes, fish bones and coffee filters. Hint: They are all acceptable in your green bin! Marin County also has multiple waste haulers, each with their own rules for residential green waste collection. For example, Stinson and Bolinas residents may not put food scraps in with their yard waste. If you want information on how to set up composting in your backyard, check out our Home Composting Courses Page for more information.
Check out the FAQs below for a list of the most common items that belong in your compost cart, how to start a backyard compost pile, and other helpful tips and resources. And of course, the best thing to do with food is to eat it! Please remember to Shop Your Fridge First to avoid wasting food.
Which items belong in my green cart?
- Breads & grains
- Coffee grounds
- Plate scrapings
- Seafood & shellfish
- Vegetables (cooked & uncooked)
Food Soiled Paper
- Coffee filters
- Tea bags
- Paper napkins and towels
- Paper plates and cups
- Paper take-out boxes
- Pizza boxes
Yard & Garden Waste
- Grass and weeds
- Plant trimmings
- Bamboo utensils
- Wooden stir sticks
- Paper dixie cups
Which items do NOT belong in my green cart?
- Animal waste
- Cat litter
- Metals and foil
- Milk cartons
- Plastic bags and containers
- Plastic flower pots
- Plastic trays
- Rocks & dirt
- Waxed paper
- “Biodegradable plastics”
- “Compostable plastics” – if it looks like plastic, it is not compostable
- Polylactic acid (PLA) cups
Where can I get a kitchen compost pail?
Zero Waste Marin gives out kitchen compost pails at many local events, including fairs, community events, and farmers’ markets or you can contact us directly and we will mail one to you.
You can also contact your local hauler to see if they provide compost pails.
Can I use BioBags?
Most green waste (which includes food scraps and food soiled paper) collected in Marin is delivered to WM EarthCare located in Novato. WM EarthCare is an Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) Certified Program for organic farming applications. Biobags cannot be used by residents served by Marin Sanitary Service, Tamalpais Community Services District, Mill Valley Refuse, Recology Sonoma Marin and Novato Disposal because the Biobags do not meet WM EarthCare’s standards for organic material. Visit WM EarthCare’s website to learn more. The green waste from the communities of Sausalito and Marin City served by Bay Cities Refuse is delivered to the compost facility in West Contra Costa County; this facility accepts BioBags.
If you don’t want to put your food scraps directly into your kitchen counter compost pail, you can line it with old newspaper or a paper bag to help keep your pail clean.
How do I prevent odors in my green cart?
To prevent odors, mix food waste with yard waste. Add one layer of yard waste, newspaper or shredded paper to the bottom of your green bin before adding food scraps. You can also put food waste inside a paper grocery bag to help contain odors. If you are still having problems with odors, put a small bowl in your freezer and freeze your discards until they are ready for the green cart!
How do I find out who my waste hauler is?
Please visit our Who is My Hauler page.