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HOW DOES CURBSIDE PICK-UP WORK?

Turn Spoils to Soil

  1. Choose a Pick-Up Plan and Starter Kit. We offer collection every week or every other week. We also offer two sizes of curbside bins, a 13 gallon bin with locking lid and wheels (recommended) or a 4 gallon apartment size bin. Each comes with bin liners. Choose your plan and bin size based on the amount of storage space you have and how much food scraps you generate. When you sign up, your starter kit will be delivered to your household or will be available for pick up at a volunteer’s house, depending on your town. 13 gal bin dimensions 13" w x 13" l x 27" h. 4 gal bin dimensions 10" w x 13.5" h. (Bin options and pick-up plans vary per town. Some municipalities offer free bins.)


2. Line your bin or countertop container.  This is required to ensure the bins can be fully emptied. A double lined paper grocery bag works well or you can use BPI, CMA or OK Compost certified compostable bag liners. The drier the contents in the bin, the easier the bins empty, especially in winter and summer. Dry contents reduces odor and flies. See more tips for maintaining your bin. Compostable bag liners for outdoor bins and countertop containers are available for purchase through your customer login and will be dropped off at your next pickup.

3. Fill up your bin. We accept all foods including meat, bones, dairy, shells, paper towels, napkins and certified compostable service ware. We accept BPI, CMA, or OK Compost/TUV certification only. Read more about certifications here. No waxed cardboard, milk cartons, soda cups, dryer lint, or cleaning chemicals on paper towels are allowed. Here's the full list of what's compostable. Max weight limit per bin 40lbs.  

4. Put your bin on the curb for pick up by 6 am or the night before. Please make sure your bin is on the sidewalk, and not blocked by obstacles like other garbage bins, trees, snowbanks, etc. Bins not on the curb will not be collected. In addition to compost, we also pick up yard waste, textiles, and event waste in a separate bag with a Black Earth Compost Sticker.  Learn more about our Yard Waste, Event Waste, and Textile Recycling Sticker Collection program. 

5. Smile. You most likely will not have to put your regular trash out as often. You are making good use of your food scraps and helping the environment. While you are smiling, we're mixing, turning, and screening the organic waste to create a well balanced, nutrient rich compost.  Learn more about our compost process.

6. Receive finished compost in the Spring. Replenish your own soil with community sourced compost, rich in humus, micro-organisms, and an abundance of immediate and slow release nutrients, or donate your portion to the Backyard Growers. In early Spring we'll mail you a voucher for one cubic foot bag of compost redeemable at participating Garden Centers (excl. Manchester-by-the-sea, Groton, Watertown and Ipswich). New customers as of January 15th, 2022 will receive compost in Spring 2023. We also offer raised beds, bulk compost and soil blends available by the yard. Additional compost bag purchases support our Farm Works program which offers discounts on compost to local farms.

7. Manage your subscription with your online account. With your customer login you have access to personal tools and town specific information.

  • See how close your town is to a density discount
  • Get your $5 for $5 personal referral code.
  • Report a missed pick up
  • View your environmental impact
  • Manage payments
  • Order compostable bags and compost products

Pricing

Enter Your Address for Residential Curbside Compost Pick-up Pricing and Program Details!

(start typing your address and select an address from the dropdown menu)

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WHAT CAN I COMPOST?

WE ACCEPT organic material, including all food:

  • Dairy Products
  • Meats and Bones
  • Coffee Grounds, Filters and Tea bags
  • Seafood and Shells
  • Fruit and Vegetables
  • Paper Napkins and Towels
  • BPI, CMA or OK Compost/TUV Certified Compostable Serviceware

*We DO NOT accept waxed cardboard, milk cartons, paper cups or similar items not certified compostable by BPI, CMA, or OK Compost. 

**WE ARE NOT A PAPER RECYCLING OUTLET. We don't want junk mail, magazines, tons of office paper, etc. Food-soiled napkins or paper products are ok though. 

*We DO NOT accept Grass Clippings unless you are a subscriber to our Organic Lawn Care Partners.  Inquire with your town for their yard waste services.

We take contamination seriously. Bins will not be picked up if contamination is a problem. We can work together to adjust your composting system to eliminate contamination.

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Compostables Guide

View, Download or Print the Detailed Guide

What Can I Compost?
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Compostable Products and Packaging

We accept the following third party certifications:

Look for their logos on packaging. If you are unsure about a product, each company has a look up tool on their website, linked above. If you still don't know, email the company that sells the product. They are more likely to know than us. 

The words biodegradable, compostable or ASTM-6400 alone are not enough for us to accept a product. It needs to be third party certified to ensure it breaks down into acceptable non-toxic substrates.

Check out our page of acceptable certified compostable products for the kitchen or small/large gatherings.

Photo: Allegra Boverman
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Make Sure These Kids Approve Your Compostable Products

When assessing compostable takeout containers, forks, bowls, pizza boxes, packaging, etc. look for BPI, CMA, TUV or OK Compost certified compostable products.  The words biodegradable, compostable or ASTM-6400 alone are not acceptable. Compostable products tend to have a lower carbon foot print and are made with plant material, often from agricultural waste.

Purchase certified compostable bag liners for kitchen counter top containers, 13 gallon curbside bins and 4 gallon bins through the customer shop and they will be delivered at your next scheduled pickup.

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Spread The Word

The more people in your town sign up, the cheaper service becomes for all participants through our density discount program. Put up a yard sign, post a flyer, or work with a local community group. Custom flyers can be made on request. 

Flyer to share our service with others

Share Curbside Service on Social Media:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

How can I see if you service my home and the cost?

Enter your address into the "Check if you service my address?" section of this page, the home page or the residential pick up page.

What type of container should I use?

New customers are required to purchase our 13 gallon tote (dimensions 13" w x 13" l x 27" h), with locking lid and wheels or a 4 gallon apartment bin for curbside pickup, unless your town offers free bins with service. The bin can be kept inside or outside the house. In addition, you may want to use a smaller kitchen container to empty into the larger bin. There are a variety of container options to create a clean and efficient system that meets your needs, including kitchen counter top crocks, door hung bins, and freezer containers. Bins with a carbon filter can minimize smell.

Please label your curbside bin with your address. Check out our bin maintenance tips.

Which Starter Kit bin size do I need?

We recommend the 13 gallon bin as it holds more and is easier to spot on the side of the road. It can also more easily accommodate fluctuations in the amount of compostable waste you have. The four gallon works for people who do not have the space to accommodate a 13 gallon bin on their property or have a lot of stairs. If you are just not sure, you can start with the 4 gallon bin and then purchase the 13 gallon bin through your online account if you decide it is too small. The 4 gallon bin fits under most kitchen sinks so it can also work as a kitchen container or be reused more easily since we don't take bins back.

Which pick-up frequency do I need?

We offer food scrap collection plans for weekly or every other week pick-up. Email reminders the night before your pick up are available for weekly and every other week plans. Please note, during warm summer months bins with every other week pick up can become smelly, dirty and buggy. Practicing good bin maintenance can lessen the heat effects, such as rinsing the bin, storing food scraps in the freezer, keeping liquids out of the bin, sprinkling the bottom of the bin with baking soda, and other simple tricks. Learn more about bin maintenance.

Choose a frequency that will work for you based on the amount of food scraps you generate and the space you have for bin storage. If you choose a frequency that does not work for you, you can switch plans.

What if I can't leave my bin curbside?

Curbside compost bins must be put on the curb, like you would your regular trash. They must be visible, not hidden behind other trash receptacles, trees or snow banks. Bins not on the curb, for instance left on a porch or next to the garage, will not be collected.

What if I have a long driveway? For an additional fee we do have an extended service plan that will come down your driveway. Inquire here to find out more.

What if I live in an apartment complex? If you live in an apartment building or condo and are not able to put your bin on the curb, you may still be able to compost with us if there is an acceptable visible location our trucks can access. Check with your building facilities to find out where you can leave it. Then email us here to verify your location.

How can I order more compostable liners?

Compostable liners are available for purchase in the shop section of your online account. They will be delivered during your next scheduled pickup. Login to access the Shop.

Do I have to use your compostable liners?

No. We accept liners that are certified compostable by Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) and Compost Manufacturing Alliance (CMA), and TUV such as BioBags, EcoSafe, Bag to Nature, UNNI, Biotuff and Natur-Bag. The BPI logo will be on the packaging or check CMA's website for their list. They can often be found at Crosby’s, Target, Whole Foods or Amazon. These bags come in a variety of sizes but note that the ones we sell are the proper dimension for our bins. You are also welcome to line your bin with doubled up brown paper bags. You can put the small countertop liners directly into an unlined bin.

What are compostable bags?

Compostable bags are made of a corn polymer and have been tested to break down within a certain time frame at industrial compost facilities. Biodegradable bags are not the same as compostable.

What do I do if my scheduled pick-up was missed?

Log into your online account and complete the missed pickup form. We will get back to you to reschedule a pickup for when we are next in your neighborhood. Make sure to place your bin on the curb by 6 am or the night before to ensure it's out for the driver. 

How do I get a replacement bin?

Customers own their bin and are responsible for purchasing a new Black Earth Compost bin in the event it becomes lost, stolen or damaged. A replacement bin, lid, or clip can be purchased through the Shop in your customer account and it will be delivered during your next pickup. Login to access the Shop.

Is there a weight limit for my bin?

For 13 gallon bins the max acceptable weight is 40lbs.  If your bin is continually heavier than 40lbs we ask that you get a second bin subscription or switch to weekly pick up. 

Can I put out two bins?

We offer subscriptions for a second bin. Please contact us through the residential contact form to set up service for a second bin. For infrequent needs, consider ordering yard waste stickers and putting out a yard waste bag with your bin. This works great for parties with lots of soiled paper products.

Where will the collected food scraps be composted?

We compost at several locations that we manage or are in partnerships with that are permitted by the MASS Department of Environmental Protection or MASS Dept of Agriculture to accept food waste for composting. These locations include partnerships with cities, local farms, and private land.

When will I receive my finished compost?

In April you will receive a printable voucher in your online account for a cubic foot bag of compost, redeemable at participating garden centers. If you do not wish to receive compost we will donate your portion to Backyard Growers. Make sure the donate option is selected in your online account. Yearly vouchers expire October 1st and can't be saved for the next year or traded in for credit. New customers as of January 15th, 2022 will receive a voucher the following year.

How can I minimize odors in my food waste collection container?

Composting can be messy. Just taking a few simple steps and establishing a good system removes the ick factor. Here are some suggestions: We highly recommend the use of a container liner, either a paper bag/newspaper or approved compostable bag (biodegradable bags are not acceptable). Clean container regularly. Compost napkins, paper towels and other soiled paper to absorb moisture. Avoid pouring liquid into the container. Indoor kitchen containers with a carbon filter traps odor. In the heat of the summer freeze food waste before collection. Sprinkle bottom of container with baking soda (to absorb wetness & odor). Sprinkle bottom of container with white vinegar. Wrap meat, fish in newspaper or paper bags. Keep the bin out of the sun. Check out our bin maintenance tips for additional information.

Can I include yard waste and leaves in my barrel?

Most cities have a separate service that pick up leaves and yard waste. Please inquire with your city. If your city is unable to meet your needs we do offer yard waste collection. Purchase an orange sticker through your account store and slap it on a paper yard waste bag, fill with yard debris (NO GRASS!), and place next to your green bin on your regularly scheduled pickup. Acceptable material includes leaves, small plants, and sticks no greater than a half inch round. Grass is only accepted if you participate in an organic yard care program. Please keep yard bags dry until pickup day. Click here for more information about our sticker program.

Can I put my food in plastic bags and then put it in the organics cart?

No! Plastic bags are a contaminant. Your bin will be rejected if contaminated with plastic.

How do I prevent compost from freezing to the bin in winter?

To prevent compost from freezing to your outdoor bin in winter you can line it with a compostable bag. Double bagged paper grocery bags work great as well. Feeling creative? Roll your compost like a burrito in newspaper.

Can produce stickers be composted?

Produce stickers are not compostable and do not break down in the compost pile. Please remove stickers from produce before disposal.

What are organics?

In the compost world, organics refers to materials that were once alive and will break down naturally to be turned into compost (nutrient rich soil). This term is not to be confused with organic food that complies with organic methods of farming. Examples of organics that are accepted in the compost bin are listed on the “Composting Guide” page.

Why is composting better than putting food scraps in the garbage disposal?

A decrease in the use of garbage disposals results in water and electricity savings. Food scraps are organics, which increase Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) at our wastewater treatment plant, adding to the cost of treating our wastewater. By removing these organics, the treatment plant can function more efficiently, saving daily cost of operation while also helping marine wildlife and habitat, thus improving the quality of our estuaries and waterways.

What’s so great about compost?

By composting, you are turning what would otherwise be waste into a resource that can be used again. Not only is this resource valuable, but instrumental in securing a healthy local food system. When you compost with Black Earth Compost your efforts become part of a bigger, more resilient system. The finished compost is available for you to use and is used by local farms who grow food that is sold in grocery stores and restaurants, returning your nutrients to you in their most nourishing form. Not only is the big picture cool, all the microbes, bacteria, and insects that make it possible are pretty cool too! The same genus of bacteria that inhabit hot springs and deep sea thermal vents are also found in the compost pile when it’s at it’s hottest temperature.

Can my pet get sick from compost?

Always keep compost carts out of the reach of pets. As organic material decomposes, mold can grow. Some forms are toxic to pets.

How do I change or cancel my compost pick up service?

To change your payment plan or cancel your pick up service complete this form or email blackearthcompost@gmail.com.

Order Black Earth merchandise through our Tee-Springs site.