Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Town of Natick conducting a curbside composting pilot?

Food waste is cheaper to dispose of than trash, and diversion offers important environmental benefits. The goal of the pilot is to gain insight on the costs and benefits of a food waste diversion program and to determine if the Town of Natick should invest in the infrastructure and operational changes needed to offer this service to all households.

How does the pilot work?

The two-year pilot is funded by a combination of grants and participant fees and is limited to 500 single-family households. Participants must pay a $25 fee to register and receive the following:

- 13 gallon curbside bin

- Kitchen counter top container

- 150-180 approved compostable bags (estimated to be a year's supply for the average household)

- Weekly food waste collection services (on your trash day)

Pilot participants collect leftover food and store it in a kitchen counter top container that is lined with an approved 3 gallon compostable bag. When a bag is full, it is tied and placed in a 14 gallon curbside bin for weekly collection on the participant's trash day. The Town then delivers the collected food waste to a commercial facility, where it is turned into compost.

How do I sign up to participate in the pilot?

The pilot is currently full, but we encourage residents to express their interest in participating using our online form:

What materials are acceptable for curbside composting?

Acceptable items include: fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, shellfish, rice, beans, pasta, bakery items, cheese, eggshells, tea bags, coffee grinds, coffee filters and food-soiled paper.

Items that are NOT ACCEPTABLE include bones, liquids, grease, cooking oil, bones, pet waste, diapers, styrofoam, plastic-coated containers, plastic, metal, wrappers, glass, and single-stream recyclables. Please put recyclables in your recycling tote.

How can you compost meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products?

At large composting facilities, temperatures reach between 140-160 degrees - temperatures high enough to break down these materials.  

Where does the food waste go?

Collected food waste is transported to the Town of Needham's compost facility.

What is the cost to participate?

Participants are asked to pay $25 in the first year of the pilot to cover the cost of the compostable bags and to help cover expenses associated with collection services. Participants also receive a curbside bin and kitchen counter top container.

When will my curbside composting bin be picked up?

The pilot will follow existing pickup schedules and will be collected weekly on the same day you put out your trash. Please ensure your food waste bin is set out by 6 a.m. for pickup.

When and where can I pick up my bin, bags and other pilot materials?

Pilot materials, including the kitchen countertop container, curbside bin and compostable bags, are available for pick up at  the DPW during regular operating hours (Monday from 7 am to 7 pm, Tuesday through Thursday from 7 am to 4 pm, Friday from 7 am to noon).

Why do I have to use approved compostable bags?

If you do not use an approved compostable bag, your compost will not be collected.

There are three reasons participants are required to use approved compostable bags. First, the truck that the Town is using to collect food waste can only accept bagged material. Second, the approved bags meet our disposal site's biodegradation requirements. Using a different, unapproved bag could impair the composting process. Finally, the pilot is being modeled after our community's PAYT program, with the intent of offering curbside composting as a lower-cost option to residents.

What if I run out of approved compostable bags?

Replacement bags are available for sale at the Natick Department of Public Works and at Tilly and Salvy's Bacon Street Farm. The bags are sold in packs of 60 for $5.

What if I have more waste than can fit in my curbside bin?

Please contact the DPW.

Can I get finished compost for my garden from the pilot?

Compost from the first year of the pilot was made available on a first-come, first-served basis in spring 2017 at the Recycling Center at no cost to participants. The Town expects to offer finished compost to pilot members again in 2018.

How is curbside composting different than backyard composting?

Backyard composting requires the composter to own and upkeep their own compost bin. It is a great way to compost most items because it does not have any of the environmental impacts associated with collection and transportation.

Curbside composting is a great alternative to backyard composting because it does not require the time, space or knowledge needed to maintain a compost pile or bin. All you do is collect your food scraps and transfer them to your curbside bin - the Town does the rest. If you are a backyard composter, we encourage you to also participate in the curbside pilot, because it accepts additional items you can't compost in your backyard, such as meat, cheese, fish and soiled paper. It is also available year-round (many people do not shovel paths to their backyard compost bin in the winter). With the curbside composting program, all you need is a small bin in your kitchen and the curbside bin. You collect your food scraps, bag them and transfer them to your curbside bin, and then wait for the Town to do the rest.

Can businesses participate?

Unfortunately, the pilot is only available to participating residents and select school and municipal buildings. In the future, the Town hopes to offer this service on a larger scale.

How can I reduce odor in my kitchen and keep pests away from my curbside bin?

Remember curbside composting is not adding new odors to your waste stream. It is simply separating food from trash.

However, there are some good strategies for reducing odor. Try these tips:

  • Transfer food scraps from your kitchen container to the curbside bin 2-3 times a week.
  • Always place your curbside bin for weekly pickup, whether or not it is full.
  • Try to minimize moisture by drying out tea bags and draining excess liquid from food before placing it in your kitchen container.
  • Store the kitchen container in the refridgerator or freezer to help reduce odor, especially in warm weather.
  • Store your curbside bin in your garage or outside, preferably in a ventilated, shady area and be sure to use your bin's latching device to keep rodents away.
  • Avoid putting fruit peels, like banana peels and melon rinds, in your compost container in July and August to prevent fruit flies.