Additional Organics Pail Information

Frequently Asked Questions about the Organic Pails

What items belong in organics? 

Food Scraps & Food Soiled Paper:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Meats
  • Seafood
  • Dairy Products
  • Bread, grains, pastas
  • Bones, shells
  • Food soiled cardboard such as pizza boxes
  • Food soiled napkins and paper towels
  • Paper based to-go containers

Yard Trimmings

  • Flower cuttings
  • Garden trimmings
  • Lawn clippings
  • Leaves
  • Pruning
  • Shrubbery
  • Tree twigs (4 feet or less in length and 6 inches in diameter)
  • Weeds
  • Wood Chips

Are wax-coated containers accepted in the organics bin? 

We have been notified by our organic waste management team at Athens that wax-coated containers, such as milk cartons, are no longer accepted. If containers have multiple materials that cannot be separated, they belong in the landfill. 

Can I use plastic bags for my organics? 

Any clear, plastic bag is accepted in the organics provided that it is fully transparent. However, the City would encourage customers to skip the bag and place the organic material directly from the organics pail to the organics bin whenever possible.

Can I really put bones and meat in my organics bin? 

Yes, meat and bones is accepted in the organics bin. The City takes collected organics to Athens, which is able to compost at an industrial scale. Due to the different technology utilized at this scale, meat and bones are able to break down with the other organic materials. This may differ from a backyard compost. 

I used utensils that look like plastic but say "Compostable", can these go in the organics? 

No, if it looks plastic, it cannot go in the organics bin. Plant-based plastics (PLA #7) are still produced with petroleum and cannot break down, even in the industrial composting process. These materials cannot be recycled and should go in the landfill. 

Does pet food go into the organics? 

Yes, unmedicated pet food, such as kibble, is accepted in the organics stream.

Additional Tips

To ensure your countertop organics pail remains clean and functional, we recommend the following: 

  • Avoid overfilling the pail. 
  • Empty it every few days. 
  • Rinse with soap and warm water after each emptying and allow it to air dry. 
  • Freeze spoiled or smelly food items like meat, bones, and dairy, adding them to the pail only before disposal. 
  • Lightly sprinkle baking soda at the bottom of the pail to help absorb odors. 
  • Keep the lid closed to deter fruit flies. 
  • Spray a little Castile soap on the food scraps to mitigate pests. 
  • Place a dry paper towel inside the pail to absorb moisture. 
  • If space permits, store the pail in the refrigerator until pickup day. 

For more information, watch this video about which materials belong in organics