Curbside composting has arrived. Austin Resource Recovery began delivering green composting bins to 38,000 new customers in the city’s phase 1 composting rollout last week. You can check and see if your neighborhood is included in the initial rollout here>>
If your house is included in the phase 1 rollout, you should be receiving your green composting bin any day now (if you haven’t already received it) and the pickup service will began on Monday. Simply put out your composting bin on the same day your trash and recycling bins are normally picked up.
So what can you put in the bin?
- Food scraps – including meats and bones
- Spoiled food
- Yard trimmings
- Cotton balls
- Pizza boxes
- Soiled paper, like napkins (clean paper should still be recycled)
- Popsicle sticks
So how do you prepare for the new service?
If you’re about to get curbside composting, the City of Austin will provide you with the big green bin for outside of your house, but you’ll also need to get a small bin for inside. There are plenty of kitchen/indoor compost bins that you can buy online or at retail stores like Target and World Market. These bins usually have a charcoal liner and tight fitting lid to trap odors.
To help reduce odors in your kitchen, you can also sprinkle baking soda into your compost or collect all your food scraps in a reusable container in the freezer. To help keep your kitchen bin clean, you can also line it with a paper bag or a BPI-certified compostable bag. When purchasing compostable bags, just be sure that they have this logo on them (see below).
More information about how to avoid compost-related odors in your kitchen is available in the video below:
So how much will this cost?
Austin City Council has approved a $1 monthly fee increase to cover this first year of the composting rollout. By 2020, when curbside composting is rolled out to the entire city, the fee will be $4 extra a month. This fee is mandatory, even if you choose not to use the composting service or are not included in the phase 1 rollout.
However there is still a way to save money. In Austin, your trash/recycling/compost bill is only calculated based on the size of your trash bin. The average Austin Resource Recovery customer has a fairly large 64-gallon trash cart. Since food waste makes up nearly half of Austin’s trash, the idea is that with composting, you’ll be able to throw away less stuff and therefore reduce the size of your trash cart. If you’re able to downsize to a 32-gallon cart, you could save $61 a year and if you’re able to downsize to a 24-gallon cart, you could save $76 a year. Both of those savings are more than the eventual $48 a year rate increase everyone will experience to pay for the new composting service.
When will composting reach everyone?
Curbside composting is rolling out gradually to all Austin Resource Recovery customers over the next few years. It’s expected to reach everyone by 2020. This is a key part of Austin’s initiative to be diverting 90 percent of our waste from the landfill by 2040. Since food waste makes up such a large percentage of what we throw away, curbside composting is expected to significantly decrease the trash produced by the community.
But it won’t do everything. Apartments, condos, and most multifamily dwellings aren’t Austin Resource Recovery customers, which means they won’t receive the service. (Their trash and recycling pickup is arranged by the building owner/manager).