Denver Composting 101

Why Compost?

It’s estimated over 50% of a household’s waste in Denver are organics that, when sent to landfills, produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By composting, we reduce landfill waste and methane emissions. And the organic material you collect keeps our soils healthy—which is critical if we want to feed the world and cool the planet. 

Composting is easy

In Denver, you don’t have to start your own backyard compost pile to compost. All you need is a compostable, BPI certified, bag to get started. You can buy these at King Soopers, Safeway, Whole Foods or order on Amazon. Start collecting your banana peels, coffee grounds, last month’s molded leftovers, coffee grounds, tissues, paper towels, anything organic. When your bag is full, the city will help.

What do I do with the compost I have collected?

If you live in a house or a multi-unit structure seven units or less, you can get a green compost bin from the city and country of Denver. There is a monthly fee of $9.95 for a green bin.

If you live in an apartment or condo, you can drop your compost off at the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off located at S. Quebec St. and E. Cherry Creek South Drive.  This is a convenient and NO-COST way for Denver residents to compost food scraps, yard debris and non-recyclable paper. To learn more or get a green bin:

There are also private companies that will pick up your compost as well. Check out Scraps, Compost Colorado and the Denver Compost Collective.

By signing up for compost collection you can reduce the amount of waste you throw away by as much as 50 to 75 percent!

What can I put into compost?

You can drop your BPI certified bag into the city green compost bin along with grass clippings, yard debris and anything organic. Same goes for the Cherry Creek drop-off location. Accepted items include all food scraps (even bones, fish skin and eggshells) non-recyclable paper like greasy pizza boxes, facial tissue, paper bags, paper napkins, and other items like pet hair, wooden chop sticks and  popsicle sticks.

Keep the compost stream clean

Here are the items NOT to put into compost:

  • Plastic of any kind.
  • Fruit Stickers. They are little, a huge problem. Make a habit of removing stickers from your fruits and veggies as you wash them.  
  • Dryer Lint / Vacuum Cleaner Debris. Remember, most of our clothing and carpeting is made of synthetic fibers that do not belong in compost. 
  • Twist Ties / Rubber Bands. Did a bundle of kale go bad? Even if it’s slimy and difficult to handle, always be sure to remove the metal twist tie or rubber band .
  • Cleaning Wipes. Even though some wipes are labeled as ‘compostable,’ these items are not accepted in the Denver Composts program.  
  • Animal Poop. Please, no poop of any kind! No dog/cat poop, no cat litter, and absolutely no diapers (even if they’re marketed as ‘compostable’).  

What happens to the compost?
The city takes all the collected compost to A1 Organics. They use a high heat process to turn all the organic material into a soil amendment known as compost. This material is then added to soil to provide nutrients to plants and improve overall soil health. You can even purchase Denver’s Own EcoGro at Ace Hardware stores for $6.99 per bag.