No-Fuss Options for Separating Kitchen Scraps

San Franciscans have numerous options for separating food scraps for compost collection.

The keys to keeping your kitchen neat and clean are to place your scraps in a container that will not leak and transfer them to a compost collection (green) cart before they begin to break down. Usually that means taking them out once a day, such as after dinner.

Please place all food scraps from the preparation of meals and all plate scrapings from unfinished meals in a compost container. You can request a kitchen pail, at no additional cost, online at, just click “order green cart.” You also can call Sunset Scavenger, (415) 330-1300, or Golden Gate, (415) 626-4000, weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Stores selling kitchenware offer countertop compost containers of different styles and price ranges. People typically rinse their countertop container with a little soap and water after use. Another option is to line the container with a little soiled paper, such as a paper napkin, to absorb moisture.

Source: Flickr

Paper grocery bags also can be used to hold kitchen scraps. To control moisture, line paper bags with a little newsprint or a few used paper towels. Then toss vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, and other leftovers inside. Once a day (before you go to bed) roll the top of the paper bag shut and toss it in a composting (green) cart.

Source: Flickr

A gable-top paper milk carton is another option. If you buy a paper carton with a plastic spout, which we do not recommend, split the top open and remove the plastic spout before placing food scraps inside.

Source: Flickr

Some people simply wrap kitchen trimmings in newspaper like a burrito. Newspaper and food soiled paper, such as paper napkins, mix with food scraps at the compost facility and compost well.

Please remember you should place all your food scraps, including meat and bones, soiled paper, and plants in the green cart for composting pickup.

Food scrap collection is easy; find the best method that works for you.

New data shows that composting is a highly effective way to help protect the environment. San Francisco residents and businesses have composted more than 620,000 tons of material, mostly food scraps, through the city’s green cart program. By composting all that food since the program was created instead of sending it to landfill, San Francisco:

  • Avoided creating 137,000 tons of methane gas, which the Environmental Protection Agency reports is 21 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.
  • Sequestered, or put back into the soil, 18,400 metric tons of CO2. That is the equivalent of keeping nearly 3,600 cars off the road.
  • Created a total CO2E benefit (methane avoided and carbon sequestered) of 155,000 tons. That’s equal to reforesting 35 square miles of sustainable forest for 23 years or offsetting emissions from all vehicles crossing the Bay Bridge for 311 days.

One Response to “No-Fuss Options for Separating Kitchen Scraps

  • I tend to use whatever paper material around for food scraps and since my hubby reads a ton of newspapers and tends to pile up I use them for whatever purpose, like a container for food scraps among other things.

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