Discover Denver's Compost Collection Program

Organic material like food, soiled paper and yard debris is the single largest item we throw away in our landfill, and it is 100% compostable. Participants in the compost collection program receive a large, green composting cart and weekly collection. Organic material such as yard debris, food and soiled paper are all accepted in the program.  Only material inside the green cart can be collected.

Helpful Composting Tips and Resources

Yard debris: Grass clippings, leaves, plant trimmings, branches (no larger than 4 feet in length and 4 inches in diameter), flowers, houseplants, weeds and garden trimmings.
Food: Baked goods, bones, bread, butter and margarine, cake, candy, cereal, cheese, coffee grounds, cookies, corn cobs and husks, dairy products, eggs and eggshells, fish and fish parts, flour, fruits, grains, gravy and sauces, herbs and spices, jams and jellies, mayonnaise, meat and meat products, nuts and nut shells, oatmeal, pasta, peanut butter, pizza, popcorn, poultry, pumpkins, rice, salads, shellfish, sugar, syrup, tea bags, vegetables, watermelon, yogurt and other processed food like left over pizza or burritos, and more.
Non-Recyclable Paper: Used paper plates, paper cups, tea bags, coffee filters, facial tissuegreasy pizza boxes (non-greasy pizza boxes should go in your recycle cart), paper towels, paper napkins, wax paper, waxed cardboard (like waxed produce boxes, not regular corrugated cardboard boxes), tissue paper and paper take-out cartons.
Other Miscellaneous items: Cotton balls, feathers, hair (pet and human), wooden chopsticks, wooden popsicle sticks and wooden toothpicks.

Due to the wide array of non-organic material it is hard to develop a comprehensive list of unacceptable items.

Here are some examples materials NOT to go in your green cart:
  • PLASTICS - No plastics of any kind, including plastics marked as "PLA", compostable or made from plant based materials.
  • Styrofoam
  • Glass or metal
  • Dryer lint or vacuum cleaner waste
  • Liquids, cooking oil or grease
  • Diapers
  • Dirt, sand, sod, rocks or stone
  • Cat litter or pet waste
  • Lumber or construction debris
  • Treated or coated wood
  • Foil-lined cartons (Typically these are juice boxes for kids or broth and soy milk cartons with plastic spouts. But you should tear the carton to determine if it is foil lined for sure.)
  • When preparing meals or cleaning up after a meal, scrape food preparation scraps and leftovers from your plate into your kitchen pail. You can even include your paper plates, paper towels and napkins.
  • Store your kitchen pail under or in the sink or on the counter to make it easy to access while preparing food or cleaning up after a meal. Find a new spot for your garbage pail so that you have to think before you throw something away - ask yourself, "Can this be composted?"
  • When filling your kitchen pail, remember to include other items in your house that can be composted such as facial tissue, microwave popcorn bags, paper towels, popsicle sticks and all the other things found on the Accepted Items list.
  • Dump the contents of your kitchen pail into your green cart at least once a week.
  • Drain as much liquids as possible from food before putting it in your kitchen pail.
  • Rinse out your pail after you empty it or run it through the dishwasher on the top shelf to keep it clean and fresh. (WARNING: Running your pail on the bottom shelf of your dishwasher will cause the pail's lid to warp and not close properly.)
  • Line your kitchen pail with newspaper or a brown paper bag to help keep it clean. Or, purchase compostable bags to use to line your kitchen pail.

Why Compost?

  • Composting is a way to keep organic material out of landfills, thereby avoiding climate warming gases generated by organic materials in landfills.
  • Organic material like food, yard debris and soiled paper makes up about 58% of what Denver residents send to the landfill.
  • Methane is generated in landfills as organic material decays under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions.
  • Methane is a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent in its heat trapping capabilities than carbon dioxide.
  • The EPA has identified landfills as one of the largest producers of methane.
  • Although methane collection at landfills is becoming more common, the EPA estimates that over the life of a landfill 25% of the methane generated in a landfill with gas collection will still escape into the atmosphere.
  • Because methane is so much more damaging than carbon dioxide, the benefits of composting organic material far outweigh the environmental “costs” of collecting, hauling and processing organic material with trucks and equipment that burn fuel.
  • The U.S. sent 25 million tons of food waste to landfills in 2005.  The greenhouse gas impact of composting this mass would be the equivalent of removing 7.8 million passenger cars from the road.

Using Compost

  • Composting is nature’s way of recycling and returning valuable organic matter and nutrients to the soil to be used again.
  • Incorporating compost into the soil can help to increase the soil's ability to retain moistureand reduce the need for fertilizers, herbicide or fungicide on farms, gardens and landscaping.
  • Compost increases infiltrationand permeability of heavy soils, thus reducing erosion and runoff.
  • Compost can retain 100% of its weight in water and is an important component of gardening in a drought.


For a more in depth look at the environmental benefits of using compost in landscaping and agriculture, and facts on composting and greenhouse gas reductions, visit the following links:

Compost Collection Areas and Payment Information

There are three ways to find out if your home is within a compost collection service area.
1. CLICK HERE to go to the Compost sign up page and enter your exact home address.  If your address comes up as eligible, you may then proceed with enrolling in the program.  
2. Call us at 311 (720-913-1311) and we'll look up your home address to see if you are eligible for compost services.
3. CLICK HERE to look at the map of the compost collection service areas.  Eligible areas are within the green zones on the map.

Compost collection services in the newly expanded areas will begin the week starting January 5, 2015. 

Compost collection services are now available in portions of the following neighborhoods: Auraria Lincoln Park, Bear Valley, Belcaro, Berkeley, City Park West, Congress Park, Cory-Merrill, Country Club, East Colfax, Five Points, Goldsmith, Hale, Hampden, Hampden South, Harvey Park, Harvey Park South, Hilltop, La Alma, Lowry Field, Mar Lee, Montclair, North Park Hill, Overland, Platt Park, Rosedale, Ruby Hill, Skyland, Sloan’s Lake, South Park Hill, Southmoor Park East, Speer, Stapleton, University, University Park, Virginia Village, Washington Park, Washington Park West, Washington Virginia Vale, Wellshire, West Highlands, Westwood and Whittier.

The majority of participants choose to prepay for the year and pay online. It saves money, paper and time!
  • 1 Quarter (3 months) at $29.25
  • 2 Quarters (6 months) at $58.50
  • 3 Quarters (9 months) at $87.75
  • 4 Quarters (1 year) at $107.00  (pre-pay for a full year and save $10)
  • Go to and select your payment option and pay by credit card or eCheck. Note: You'll need to know your Account Number.
  1. Fill out both sides of the payment slip at the bottom of your invoice and send in with your check**
  2. Make your check payable to "Manager of Finance"
  3. Write your account number in the memo line of your check
  4. Send in a stamped envelope to
Denver Compost
201 W. Colfax Ave.
Dept. 611
Denver, CO 80202
**Note:  A $50 fee will be applied to bounced checks and then sent to the City’s collection agency
Quarterly schedule is as follows: 1st Quarter is January to March; 2nd Quarter is April to June; 3rd Quarter is July to September; and 4th Quarter is October to December.

Electronic Funds Transfers (EFT), also known as eCheck payments, are secure and efficient transactions sent electronically to bank accounts within the United States. EFT payments eliminate the need to write checks and avoid postage costs. Compost service subscribers choosing this payment option should first contact their financial institution to confirm they offer EFT transactions and if there are any associated costs to the payee for this service. For Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Authorization Instructions check the back of your 2015 compost invoice or Click Here.

  • IMPORTANT: We ask subscribers that have previously set up payments to Denver Compost through their bank’s “Bill Pay” service to discontinue this payment procedure and use the eCheck payment method instead.

For questions about the Compost Collection program, please call 311(720-913-1311) or email DenverRecycles.

Denver Composts Guide

Denver Composts 
Service Instructions
Click on image above to download (4.37 MB)