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Residential Services

Residential Compost Service

Mill Valley Refuse Service provides residential compost service in Almonte, Alto, Belvedere, Corte Madera, Homestead, Mill Valley, Strawberry, Tiburon and several unincorporated areas of Marin County.

Visit our Residential Service Guidelines to learn more about our collection service.

At a Glance

  • The green Compost cart is for food scraps, food-soiled paper & yard waste only
  • Collected weekly
  • Cart(s) must be at the street by 6:00 a.m. on your designated pickup day
Mill Valley Refuse Service Compost Service
What Goes Where Tool

What Goes Where?

Not sure how to properly dispose of something? Search our What Goes Where tool to find out if a material can be reused, recycled, composted, or disposed of in your trash.

Tip: This tool works best if you search for categories instead of a brand name or very particular product. For instance, rather than “Coffee-mate container” search instead for “plastic beverage bottle.” Instead of “cottage cheese container” search instead for “plastic tub.”

What Can and Can’t Go In The Compost Cart

Mill Valley Refuse Compost Cart

The green cart is for compost material only.

It is important that we do not contaminate our compost with hazardous or non-biodegradable items. Please be careful to insure that only approved organics go in the Compost Cart.

Below are guidelines about what can and cannot go in your Compost Cart but we suggest using the What Goes Where tool above to look up specific items.

The following items are accepted in the Compost Cart. (If it’s not on the list below, please trash the item.)

Food Scraps

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood & shellfish
  • Bones
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Pasta
  • Breads & Grains
  • Cheese
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Plate scrapings
  • Leftovers

Food-Soiled Paper

  • Paper napkins & towels
  • Paper plates & cups
  • Coffee filters & tea bags
  • Pizza boxes

Yard & Garden Waste

  • Leaves
  • Flowers
  • Grass & weeds
  • Houseplants
  • Trimmings

You may also place one (1) tied bundle of cuttings 2ft x 5ft next to the cart.

Instead of the Compost Cart you may put three (3) tied bundles 2ft x 5ft at the curb on your scheduled pick-up day.

Green Cart Acceptable Items

The following items are not accepted in the Compost Cart.
  • Waxed paper
  • Paper ice cream cartons
  • Milk cartons
  • Liquids
  • Styrofoam
  • Glass
  • Metals & foil
  • Plastic bags & containers – Even biodegradeable plastics. See below.
  • Plastic flower pots
  • Plastic trays
  • Diapers
  • Cat litter
  • Animal waste
  • Rocks & dirt

Green Cart Nos

Sorry, No Compostable, Biodegradable, or Bio-Plastic Items in the Green Compost Cart

MVRS Biodegradable Bags
Compostable Utensils and Cups

Just because a product label claims it is compostable or bio-degradable, if it is not recognized by the US Department of Agriculture as feedstock for compost used in organic farming, WMearthcare/Redwood Landfill (the company that composts the materials collected by Mill Valley Refuse Service and other Marin and Sonoma County haulers) cannot accept them.

Bio-Plastic Food Ware

  • Some bio-plastics may contain harmful chemicals such as PFOs and PFAs.
  • When non-compostable bio-plastics enter compost processing facilities, they contaminate the waste stream.
  • Bio-plastics do not always break down during the composting process.
  • Bio-plastics look a lot like their plastic counterparts during the composting process.
  • When bio-plastics end up in oceans and bays, they behave similar to regular plastics in the way they decompose, potentially harming marine life.

Compostable Bags

Even though BPI-certified compostable bags meet a laboratory test for compostability, this standard is not recognized by the US Department of Agriculture National Organic Program, which certifies compost for organic farming application. What’s more, compostable, biodegradable and petroleum plastic bags are indistinguishable in the 500 tons of material Redwood Landfill processes a day.

Instead, try transferring contents from your food-scraps pail into a paper bag to carry out to your Compost Cart. This offers the benefit of a carbon source, odor reduction and moisture-absorbing container!

Compost Cart Odor

Try layering dry yard waste and wet food waste to contain odors. When you don’t have yard waste, putting a layer of newspaper or shredded documents at the bottom of the cart, and bagging food scraps in a PAPER shopping bag is an option. Keeping the lid closed at all times holds odors in, even if the interior smells between pickups.

Missed Collection

We make every effort to provide the best service possible. If your carts are skipped on your regular service day, please call our office (open Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 3:00p.m.), or leave a message after hours on our 24-hour voice-mail system at (415) 457-9760. We will pick up your cart or return your call the following morning.

Extra Compost

If you have extra yard waste, which does not fit in your cart, call us the day before your pick-up at (415) 457-9760 to ensure any extra bags/bundles will be picked up and not left behind. There is a $6.00 charge for each bag/bundle.

The Benefits of Composting

Food scraps and food-soiled paper make up about 23% of Marin’s residential waste stream, and as much as 40% of all food harvested is wasted in one way or another (see the short videos below to learn more). When you compost in your green Compost Cart, your organic waste will be diverted from the landfill to create a rich and nutritious soil amendment that can be put back in the earth, closing the “recycling loop.”

How Compost Works

  • Collect your food scraps and food-soiled paper items in kitchen pails, bowls, or bins and then transfer the food scraps to your Compost Cart along with your yard waste.
  • We empty your Compost Cart once a week and transport your organics to The Redwood Landfill and Recycling Center.
  • Food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard waste are processed into Homegrown Compost, a premium, affordable compost which you can purchase directly from The Redwood Landfill’s WM EarthCare™ Center in Novato.
  • Gardeners and farmers apply compost to soil to improve moisture retention and nutrient value of soil. Plants grow… and the cycle continues!