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How to compost right

Learn best practices for composting food scraps in King County.

What goes in the compost bin?

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 packaging do not belong in your compost because they do not break down.

Food scraps can always be composted even when they’re moldy or rotten. Food-soiled paper like pizza boxes can also be composted, but cardboard that is clean and dry is better off recycled.

Put these in the compost bin:

  • Meat, fish, poultry, bones 
  • Dairy products (yogurt and cottage cheese, for example) 
  • Vegetable and fruit trimmings 
  • Egg shells, bread, pasta, and coffee grounds 
  • Non-shiny food-soiled paper and cardboard like pizza boxes, paper coffee filters, napkins, paper towels, brown paper bags, and paper plates 

Never put these in the compost bin:

  • Plastic-coated items 
  • Plastic of any kind 
  • Food stickers 
  • Grease or liquids 
  • Pet waste 

What to do with food containers 

  • Scrape any leftover food into your compost bin. 
  • Clean and dry the container for recycling. If you can’t clean the container, then put it in the garbage.  
  • Plastic produce bags are not recyclable at home, but you can recycle them at store drop-offs. Find a nearby drop-off.

If you're not sure what to compost:

When in doubt, find out by checking compost guidelines for your city. If you're still unsure, put it in the garbage to avoid contamination.

You can learn more about food and yard waste service providers in your area by selecting a city in the drop-down.

What's the best way to collect compost at home?

For more information, download our visual recycling and composting guide. (This document is also available in additional languages under the compost guide section of this page.)

  • Keeping a small container in your kitchen is a great way to collect food scraps.
  • Repurposed containers like coffee cans, ice cream tubs, and plastic pitchers work well.
  • You can also purchase containers made from plastic, stainless steel, or ceramic.
  • Line the container with a certified compostable bag, paper bag, or newspaper.
  • Store your container in a convenient location, such as on a countertop, in the refrigerator, or even in the freezer to reduce smells.

Avoid odors and flies

  • Use a kitchen compost container with a tight-fitting lid. You can also add a carbon filter beneath the lid for additional protection from odors and flies.
  • Line the container with a compostable bag, paper bag or newspaper. These will also help keep your curbside bin cleaner.
  • Store the container in the freezer to reduce odor.
  • Rinse out your container and sprinkle baking soda as needed.
  • If your curbside bin starts to smell, contact your garbage hauler to have your container replaced with a clean one.

Can I use my garbage disposal for food waste disposal?

Try to use your garbage disposal sparingly and only for certain food scraps and liquids.

Fats, oils, and grease should never go down the drain as they cause clogs in the sewer system.

Recycling and composting guide

Recycling and composting guide (2MB)

This guide is also available in these languages:

簡體中文 (Simplified Chinese)

垃圾分类指南 (2MB)

中文 (Traditional Chinese)

垃圾分类指南 (2MB)