Composting & Recycling


Composting is the natural process of recycling organic materials like yard trimmings, food scraps and certified compostable packaging. Composting these materials keeps them out of landfills and turns them into a valuable soil amendment with a wide range of environmental benefits.

In order for this to work, we need composters to process the material, and haulers to collect it from residential and commercial generators. Some composters only accept yard trimmings, while others accept different combinations of food scraps and certified compostable products.

Each year, Americans send more food to the landfills than any other type of material. When food breaks down in landfills it creates methane, a greenhouse gas over 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the short term. In the US, landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions.

Compostable foodservice packaging was created to address plastic contamination in the organics stream and keep food scraps out of landfills. With the right procurement, education and sorting systems in place at the operator level, we have the opportunity to significantly reduce the amount of food we send to landfills by composting it along with compostable packaging.

To make this work, we will need to see significant increases in end market demand for finished compost so that composters have the ability to sell the product they have worked so hard to produce, and make room for new material at their facilities.


Recycling is more familiar to most people than composting, and has been around in its current form since the 60s and 70s. As the consumer economy took off in the 1950s, so too did the amount of single-use products and packaging in the waste stream. As those materials piled up in homes and businesses, the question of whether or not they could be used to make new things was a logical one.

The birth of “single stream” recycling where materials like paper, different kinds of plastic, cardboard and aluminum could all be put into the same bin was a game-changer in that people no longer had to separate materials before putting them out for collection. For this to work, Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) that can sort what is collected by material type were created.

Like composting, the viability of recycling depends on there being end markets for the material collected. While there are many challenges with recycling today, they all come down to whether or not there is economic demand for the material in question. For plastic, some shapes and material types are more valuable to end markets than others. Products that are food soiled – whether they be paper or plastic – are generally deemed not valuable to recyclers, which is why being able to compost those products along with food is such an exciting proposition.

In 2017, China adopted a policy that significantly affected access to end markets for many products and materials be collected for recycling in the US. While access varies widely depending on where you are, the most commonly accepted items are #1 and #2 plastics, aluminum, cardboard and different forms of non-food soiled paper.