Food Composting Program Tips

With the introduction of Napa’s food composting program, many questions have come up about what can be composted and how to keep the kitchen pails and compost carts as clean as possible. food_composting_pail_300x268
You can compost all of your food, including meat, bones, yogurt, cheese, etc. This can be confusing to those who have been composting in their backyards and have been trained not to include these items in their home compost piles. Unlike your backyard compost bin or pile, Napa Recycling and Waste Service’s compost process is hot enough to safely break down meat and dairy products and kill any harmful pathogens. If you are already a backyard composter, the City’s program will allow you to safely compost the meat and dairy products that you cannot safely compost at home and previously had to throw in the trash. 
Meat, dairy, and all of the other food scraps and food soiled paper you are putting in your compost pail can be messy and produce odors. If you are worried about keeping your kitchen compost pail and compost cart as clean and odor-free as possible, consider lining your pail with newspaper or paper towels to absorb some of the liquid and keep odors at bay. Compostable bags are another great way to keep your kitchen pail and cart clean. The bags must be certified compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI). Certified compostable bags are available at many local stores, including Vallerga’s, Browns Valley Market, Whole Foods, Target, Safeway, Home Depot and Ace Hardware. You can also purchase these bags in bulk at Costco or online. Click here for a full list of local retail locations where bags are available.
For customers that have food scraps but very little yard waste each week and don’t want to wait several weeks to bring their compost cart to the curb, Napa Recycling and Waste Services has small brown 35-gallon carts that are perfect for customers that do not have much yard waste to mix with their food scraps.  Customers can just call Napa Recycling and Waste Services at 707-255-5200 to schedule a swap of their big compost cart for a small cart.
Here are some additional recommendations to keep your kitchen pail and compost cart clean:
Kitchen Pail Care
  • Line your pail with a compostable bag or newspaper to make it easier to dump the contents of your pail and help keep food scraps from touching the inside of your brown compost cart.
  • Wrap messy food in newspaper and then place it in your container.
  • If you’re getting rid of outdated frozen food, leave it in the freezer until the night before your pickup.
  • Rinse or wash your container as needed.
  • Empty the contents frequently, including the liner, into your brown compost cart. The less time food scraps spend in your kitchen... the less opportunity for the “ick factor” to invade!
  • Sprinkle baking soda in container to help absorb odors. 
  • Spray or rub vinegar on the inside of the lid to avoid odors and fruit flies (remember fruit flies will visit your kitchen at certain times of year whether you are composting or not). 
  • Add food-soiled paper or shredded paper to help absorb moisture and reduce odors.
Compost Cart Care
  • Use a compostable bag or a newspaper liner in your kitchen container to help keep food scraps from touching the inside of your brown compost cart.
  • Layer food compost in between yard debris to reduce odors and to contain messier foods.
  • Sprinkle baking soda in your compost cart to reduce odors and deter insects.
  • Many people on Napa’s pilot program moved their brown carts closer to their kitchen door for easy emptying of their kitchen pail.
  • If needed, use mild soap and water to clean your brown cart. Pour dirty water onto grass or gravel, not down the storm drain.Store your cart in the shade in hot weather.

 Click here for more tips and information about the residential food composting program. The full brochure is available here.

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