Step 1

Order your free annual supply of food scrap bags.

Do not use other compostable bags—the bags provided by Ramsey and Washington counties are designed specifically for this program.

Once a week or when the bag is full, tie a single knot at the top to close the bag.

Tie the top of the bag like you would tie a balloon. This type of knot is best for keeping the bag sealed.

Step 3

Place your bag inside your trash cart or dumpster for collection.

  • Do not put the food scrap bags inside a regular trash bag.
  • Do not place them in your recycling.
  • Do not place them on top of or next to your trash cart or dumpster—they should go inside.
Step 4

Done! The food scraps will be composted.

After collection, the food scrap bags are separated from the trash and brought to an industrial compost facility.

Watch to learn more

Program overview

How to get started

How to use food scraps bags

What food scraps can be collected?

What happens after collection?

What can I put in my food scrap bags?

Accepted NOT Accepted

All food items are accepted

  • Coffee grounds and filters (no coffee pods)
  • Fruits and vegetables (including peels, pits and rinds)
  • Dairy products (including cheese and yogurt)
  • Nuts and nut shells (except black walnut shells)
  • Bread, tortillas, pasta, rice and cereals
  • Eggs and eggshells
  • Moldy or rotten food
  • Meat and seafood (including bones, scales and shells)
  • Beans and lentils
  • Tea leaves (no tea bags)
  • Corn cobs, corn husks and popcorn kernels
  • Pastries, pies, dough and candy
  • Herbs and spices
  • Seeds (including bird seeds)
  • Pet food

BPI certified compostable items are accepted

ONLY BPI certified compostable cups, plates, utensils, bags, parchment, wax paper etc. Check that the product or packaging has the “compostable” logo from the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) on it.

Leaf logo with BPI Compostable text

Non-recyclable paper

  • Paper towels
  • Tissues and napkins free of inks, dyes and glitter and not used with cosmetics or chemicals
  • Paper egg cartons (remove any sticker labels)

Paper products that can be recycled should be placed in your recycling cart or dumpster, rather than included in food scraps collection. Check with your recycling hauler for accepted items.

Other items accepted

  • Houseplant trimmings
  • Small wooden items (like chopsticks, popsicle sticks and toothpicks)

These items are NOT accepted

  • Ashes
  • Batteries or electronic waste
  • Black walnut shells
  • Butcher paper, wax paper, parchment paper or muffin cups (without the BPI logo)
  • Cartons (including milk, wine, broth and ice cream cartons)
  • Charcoal
  • Chewing gum
  • Cigarettes
  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • Dead animals
  • Dental floss
  • Diapers
  • Dryer lint or dryer sheets
  • Food packaging
  • Frozen food boxes
  • Gloves, balloons or similar products
  • Grease or oil
  • Hair and nail clippings
  • Hazardous waste (including paint, cleaners and automotive fluids)
  • Liquids
  • Medications and vitamins
  • Microwave popcorn bags
  • Pizza boxes
  • Paper or plastic products (like plates, bowls, cups and to-go containers) without the BPI logo
  • Pet waste, litter or bedding
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Plastic bags
  • Polystyrene (Styrofoam TM)
  • Recyclable items (boxes, cartons, glass, metal, paper and plastic)
  • Rocks, soil or dirt
  • Rubber or rubber bands
  • Sharps
  • Shredded paper
  • Stickers on produce
  • Trash
  • Vacuum cleaner bags and contents or floor sweepings
  • Wax
  • Wipes (all kinds)
  • Wood or sawdust
  • Wrappers or containers (including take-out food containers) without the BPI logo
  • Wrapping paper, tissue paper, packing paper, tape or receipts
  • Yard and garden waste (including grass, leaves and branches)

Refer to your county's website for more information on how to dispose of items not accepted in food scraps collection.

Collection Tips

There are many right ways to collect food scraps! Be creative with containers and choose a storage location that works best for you.

bin with compostable bag in a cabinet under the sink 6-gal. bag
Under the sink
bucket with compostable bag in a garage 6-gal. bag
In the garage
medium-sized bin with compostable bag next to a trash bin Black container - 13-gal. bag
By the trash
small bin with compostable bag next to a large trash bin Grey container 6-gal. bag
In a small container
tall bin with compostable bag next to a trash bin Black container - 13-gal. bag
In a tall container
small bucket with compostable bag next to the sink 6-gal. bag
On the counter


Want to know more? Check out our frequently asked questions page.

put unused food in the compost bag
tying the bag closed with an overhand knot