Cambridge Makes Big Strides in Curbside Composting

Around Six months ago, the City expanded its Curbside Compost Program to more than 25,000 households. This expansion has already had a great impact and will only continue to grow in strength as time goes on.

In this short period of time, the program has already made significant steps:

  • 1.6 million pounds of food scraps have been diverted from the landfill or the incinerator.
  • 400 metric tonness of greenhouse gas emissions have been avoided by generating clean energy from food waste, which is the equivalent of the emissions generated from burning 45,000 gallons of gasoline.
  • Diverting food scraps from the trash has resulted in an 8% decrease in trash tonnage overall in the City.

According to Department of Public Works Commissioner Owen O’Riordan, “Food scraps account for the largest single waste stream by weight that can be collected at the curb. Separating them from the trash allows us to reach our goal of 30 percent reduction in waste by 2020. By expanding our curbside composting program, we’re helping propel the City to the ultimate goal of zero waste by 2050 or earlier.”

Already, the City has made leaps towards this goal, with many guidelines and resources available to the public to ensure that they are composting properly.  Here are some simple tips:

  • Keep bins clean by using compostable bags and draining liquids. Wash compost carts with warm water and dish soap. Drain soapy water from your compost cart onto grass or soil– not on the sidewalk, driveway, or into storm drains. Never pour fats, oils, or grease down the drain.
  • Keep odors down by wrapping meat, fish, and shellfish in paper. Set the cart out on the curb every week– even if it is not full. In the summer, keep food scraps in the refrigerator or freezer until just before pickup. Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of your bins.
  • Manage fruit flies by adding food-soiled napkins or paper towels to food scraps. Store your kitchen bin in the refrigerator or freezer. Set a fruit fly trap by placing a container of cider vinegar and a bit of dish soap near your kitchen bin.
  •  To reduce the risk of costly sewer backups, use the curbside compost program rather than in-sink disposals.
  •  If you compost in your backyard, you may also use the curbside compost program to compost whatever won’t fit in a backyard compost.
  • View some more tips and guidelines here:

For those who are not eligible for curbside compost collection, Cambridge residents are welcome to bring food scraps to any of the following locations:

  • Cambridge Community Center, 5 Callender Street (Howard Street side of building)
  • Danehy Park, New Street parking lot. Open 24 hours
  • Recycling Center, 147 Hampshire Street. Open Tues/Thurs 4pm-7:30pm, Sat 9am-4pm

In order to be sure that an item can be composted, use Cambridge’s “Get Rid of it Right” tool:

Make sure to brush up on your composting knowledge and help the City to keep expanding this impactful program.

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Published by

Jamie Martin

Public Information Office co-op.