How to Collect Organics for Composting

September 5, 2023

Now that you’re signed up for the Household Organics Recycling Program at the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility and getting ready to collect your fall yard waste, it’s time to start considering how to properly handle this organic material. You may have questions like “How do I store food waste?” or “What bags should I be using?” Or that nagging question that may be on the back of any new composter’s mind: How do I eliminate odor?

When it comes to food waste, it’s important to keep a lidded organics collection bin specifically for gathering these scraps. When residents sign up for the Household Organics Recycling Program at the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility they will be given one countertop organics collection bin and a roll of compostable bags free of charge. This bin, made of 100% post-consumer plastic, is specially designed to allow airflow around the collected organics using ventilated sides. When this bin is used with breathable BioBags, odors are naturally minimized through moisture evaporation. Organics bins will get smelly if sealed off from outside air in a closed container—that’s when mold and bacteria growth will occur. Using the provided bin reduces bacteria by allowing the food waste to dry up in an open-air environment, naturally reducing odor-causing bacteria.


In general, you should take your organics bin out once per week, just like your regular trash. Develop a plan to drop off this food waste when you have filled a bag or store it in a freezer if you can’t get to the facility for some time. The freezer will help keep the scraps from naturally biodegrading and producing odors while also giving you extra time before you need to make the trip to drop off your food waste.

Make sure to be aware of what can and cannot be composted at the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility. Most food scraps are accepted, but not all paper products are (look for the BPI Compostable Certified label on paper products in your home). Acceptable food waste can be found on the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility website.

If you’re taking advantage of our free fall yard waste drop-off program in September or October (beginning September 10, for Scott County residents) there are a few different guidelines to consider. For those lawn clippings, brush, and other eligible yard waste, it’s preferred they are brought in loose. They can be gathered and transported in a truck or trailer, covered by a tarp, and then easily brushed off into our yard waste pile upon arrival. Paper bags can be used to store and drop off yard waste, however, any other bag must be dumped and taken with you.

Odor can be a little less present in yard waste, so storing brush and twigs outdoors at your home typically does not cause any problems. However, grass clippings can begin to smell after some time or attract bugs, so it is recommended that these clippings be dropped off at the facility sooner rather than later, preferably directly after mowing.

Make sure to be mindful of what is being collected in your yard as some materials can hinder the composting process. Make sure that rocks, landscaping fabric or edging, and soil is not included.

If you are unsure of what is compostable or how to best store and transport your food or yard waste, reach out to an expert here at the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility! Give us a call at 952-233-9191.