What is Compostable?

posted 8/9/2017

Metro Waste Authority depends on the communities we serve to keep our recycling programs top notch. One way Metro Waste Authority works to divert material from the landfill is by recycling yard waste into compost. Compost is a natural soil enhancer former through the decomposition of organic waste. A good compost program is only as good as the material getting composted, and we could use your help!

Biodegradable Packaging and Utensils

Many different products marketed as “biodegradable” or even “compostable,” including utensils, plates, cups, and bags— take longer to break down than yard waste. Because of this, these items don’t decompose using the same process that works on yard waste. Some products don’t ever decompose entirely, no matter how long you give them! Because of this, it’s important to exclude these items from your yard waste bags and carts.

Food Waste

Food waste is another item many people want to compost, but it tends to negatively impact the quality of our compost material. Overly ripe fruits and vegetables coming directly from the garden are accepted, but meat, dairy, and cooked/processed food can’t be composted through the program. Oils in processed food damage the quality of the compost and require a different facility permit to process.

Items in Garbage Bags

Finally, plastic bags are not accepted through the Compost It! program. Grass clippings and branches must be collected into a brown paper Compost It! bag, or generic yard waste bag with a Compost It! sticker. Plastic bags can’t be emptied on site, so any plastic bags containing yard waste have to go into the garbage so we can keep plastic out of our compost.

What IS Accepted

Metro Waste Authority takes in a whopping 33,000 tons of yard waste each year. Residents can put grass and lawn clippings, small branches and twigs, leaves, garden waste, and flowers in their Compost It! bags, bundles, and carts. View a full list of what is and is not accepted in the Compost It! program.

We want to keep producing high-quality compost for central Iowa’s residents and businesses, and we need your help to make sure what goes in makes something good come out!  Fall is an ideal time to apply compost to your plants, so pick up a load today!

For more information about safe, smart disposal and recycling options, visit or call 515.244.0021.