Residential Food Scraps Collection


Food Scraps Collection Is Going Strong In Palo Alto

 - Zak Zero, Zero Waste Guy

Palo Alto is composting more than ever before! That means more of our food scraps and soiled paper are making renewable energy and compost, not going to the landfill. 

Food Scraps Program Results

Collecting food scraps in Palo Alto produces amazing results!

Program results: 2,300 tons of food scraps composted; 208,000 kilowatts power generated; 670 metric tons of CO2e reduced; 80% of all households participate at least partially

Don’t miss an easy opportunity to fight climate change!

While these numbers are certainly impressive, there’s still room for improvement! Studies have shown that about 50% of what Palo Altans throw away in their black landfill cart is food scraps and soiled paper! 

Residential Garbage Cart Stats - 50% of waste in residential garbage is food scraps and soiled paper

We are doing great, but we can do even better. Can we count on you to put ALL food scraps, soiled paper and plant trimmings in your compost cart? 

Examples of Food Scraps and Soiled Paper

For more information about what goes in your green cart, visit our What Goes Where Tools webpage. 

LIFE HACKS: Making Food Scraps Collection Easy

Zak Zero visited Palo Alto residents to find out how they make food scraps collection easy and convenient in their homes. Try any of these amazingly simple tips today and maximize your composting efforts!

We use milk cartons and keep them in the refrigerator until pick-up day." - Adam and Abi


We use a compostable bag to collect meat, dairy and old leftovers from the fridge the night before collection and take it directly to the cart. Placing the food scraps on top of leaves or plant trimmings keeps the green cart clean." - Liz P.


We use everyday containers and keep them in one side of the sink so it's easy. A simple lid keeps down odors." - Diquan R.


We bought our own stainless steel container with a filter and line it with compostable bags." - Elizabeth G.


We use the green cart for things we can't compost at home or feed to our chickens, like meat, bones and soiled paper." - Sven T.


Grace lines bucket and layers with paper  
"My husband and I line the bucket with newspaper, then layer food scraps with used paper napkins to keep it neat." - Grace G.


Kate keep food scraps in the fridge or freezer until collection day  
I keep food scraps in the fridge or freezer in a paper carton until collection day." - Kate W.


Caryn uses pullout trashcan instead of bucket  
We use one of our pull-out trash cans to collect food scraps, instead of the pail." - Caryn H.


More Tips From Residents

Find out what goes where. 

“I took a few moments to learn more about how to use the program. I visited What Goes Where Tools webpage to see what I could put in the green cart. After I did that, composting was easy. It's worth the effort." — Lisa A.

Keep the smelliest scraps in the fridge or freezer until collection day.

“We use biobags and keep them in the freezer until it's time to place them in the green cart." — David P. 


Line the bucket you use to collect food scraps.

“We use a larger can, so I line it with newspaper on the bottom, a compostable plastic bag, and some more newspaper. Occasionally, I sprinkle in some baking soda. These steps help to absorb liquids or odors.” — Vickie M.

Venus Flytraps like to eat fruit flies.

“I put a small Venus flytrap plant on my counter and haven't seen a single fruit fly since. And the kids love it.”  — Amie N.

It's part of what we do in Palo Alto!

“I’m a Zero Waste Block Leader, and I’m proud to say my community has embraced the food scraps program.” — Linda C.


Program Highlights

1. Learn what can be composted in your green cart, visit our What Goes Where Tools webpage 

2. Meat, bones, dairy and soiled paper go in your green cart too!

Zak found that a majority of residents are already participating, but we can get even closer to zero waste by placing more of our meat, bones and soiled paper to the green compost cart.