Food Waste for Compost, Trash, or Garbage Disposal: Which Is Greener?

Composting at home is the most eco-friendly way to get rid of food scraps. Using an at home composting method such as a backyard composter or worm bin saves the natural resources usage required to transport and process the food scraps collected in municipal programs and allows for the householder to benefit from the compost created. This is the preferred option for food scrap disposal. But if you simply don’t have the space or time to maintain a household backyard compost bin, you may be wondering what the next best way is — the trash can or your kitchen sink’s garbage disposal, or something else? While it is convenient to put your food scraps down the sink or toss them in the trash; here are some alternatives that can help you be the best advocate for the environment and possible impacts for these options.

Food Scraps in the Trash – It Goes to the Landfill

Your food that is placed in the trash gets picked up by the garbage collection trucks, and it gets taken to the landfills. Once at the landfill, it starts to decompose and rot, and then releases methane gas. Landfills by law capture methane, and either burn it off or clean it to sell back to the energy grid, however some methane escapes. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas which is harmful to human and animal health and the environment.

Food Scraps in the Sink – It Goes into the Waterways

It can be easy to wash your leftovers from dinner down the drain through an in-sink garbage disposal, however it takes a considerable amount of water (approximately one gallon per person per day)  and energy to filter out food waste when it reaches a water treatment facility. Clean water is valuable, and the process wastes a lot of our precious resources. Once these food scraps are separated, they are generally transported to the same place as they would in the garbage: the landfill.

Food Scraps in the Food Scrap Pail/Organics Bin and Collected at Curbside

A simple option (and second best to composting at home) is to have a food scrap collection pail right in your kitchen to conveniently collect the scraps and then place the contents into the larger green/organics cart provided by your garbage collection company for curbside pickup. You may use any type of container that will fit in your preferred space to make it easy for you to collect your food scraps and empty the contents into the green cart outside. RecycleMore offers small Food Scrap Collection Pails (at no cost) to residents of West Contra Costa County. To learn more about this program and see where you can obtain a Food Scrap Collection Pail, CLICK HERE.

The contents of the green/organics bin are collected on regularly scheduled curbside collection days and brought to the compost facility, where these foods scraps are turned into compost. Once the compost is ready, free compost is available to residents of West Contra Costa County. To learn more about this program and see when and where you can obtain the compost, CLICK HERE.

Having a kitchen food scrap pail is a great alternative to throwing away your scraps into the trash or drain, as it allows you to separate your waste effectively and intentionally.

What Else Can You Do? Reduce Your Food Waste

There’s something you can do in addition to choosing how to discard unwanted food: minimizing the amount of food waste you create in the first place can result in huge positive impacts on your planet and wallet! If you find yourself scraping a lot of food off plates, serve smaller portions. Consider making a meal plan each week to help you buy only the food you need and use it before it spoils. Freeze leftovers and aging produce so they won’t go to waste and challenge yourself to use them creatively, into new recipes. Regrow roots or veggies allow for produce to be reused.

These are just some resourceful ways to cut your food waste down. Here are 10 Ways to Reduce Food Waste, from RecycleMore, CLICK HERE.


To learn more about what to do with food waste, the curbside collection organics programs, as well as composting at home ideas, CLICK HERE