- August 23, 2023

Your Complete Austin Composting Guide


If you aren’t composting already, you should be – especially if you live in the city of Austin. They make it so easy! Between composting and recycling, you may be surprised by how much you can reduce your amount of waste.

In case you aren’t aware, compostable material cannot break down in a landfill. Instead, those items decompose without oxygen and release harmful methane into the atmosphere. Austin’s curbside composting program turns what they collect from you into nutrient-rich compost that can be used to help soil retain water and fertilize lawns and gardens without chemicals.

Now, here’s everything you need to know to get started composting in Austin!

Your Complete Austin Composting Guide

First off, let’s talk about what can and can’t be composted.

What You Can Compost

  • Food Scraps: cooked or raw meat, poultry and seafood (including bones), cheese, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, grains, pasta, eggshells, bread, coffee grounds, tea bags, tea leaves, baked goods, nuts, jelly, candy, snack foods, leftovers, spoiled food.
  • Yard Trimmings: grass clippings, small branches, small tree limbs, tree roots, flowers, leaves, plants, straw.
  • Food Soiled Paper: paper bags, paper napkins, paper towels, paper plates, paper cups, paper take-out containers and take-out boxes (with no plastic or wax coating, and with metal removed), pizza boxes, coffee filters, microwavable popcorn bags, newspaper, tissues.
  • Natural Fibers: popsicle sticks, sawdust (in paper bags), shredded paper, toothpicks, wooden chopsticks, untreated wood.

What you Can’t Compost

  • Aluminum
  • Animal carcasses
  • Ceramics
  • Cigarette butts and ashes
  • Clothing
  • Cotton balls and cotton swabs
  • Diapers
  • Glass
  • Glossy paper
  • Hazardous waste
  • Kitty litter
  • Liquids (including fats, oils, grease)
  • Medical waste
  • Metal
  • Pet waste 
  • Plastic of any kind (bags, bottles, containers, straws, etc.)
  • Rocks
  • Styrofoam
  • Tree stumps
  • Wine corks 
  • Wood that is treated or painted

Items like plastic, glossy paper, window envelopes, and clean paper products should be recycled in your blue cart instead. You can learn more about what you can and can’t recycle in Austin here.

If you’re unsure what to do with an item, use this tool!

Other Things To Know About Composting

  • Place your composting cart at the curb by 5:30 a.m. on your collection day. Find your composting day here.
  • Place trash, recycling, and compost carts five feet apart, with the lids fully closed, so the automated trucks can collect safely and efficiently. 
  • The City of Austin will also collect 15 extra items placed beside the cart (including lawn and leaf bags, reusable containers and small branch bundles):
  • Extra composting material that does not fit into your green cart with the lid closed should be placed in lawn and leaf bags or a reusable container (no larger than 34 gallons and no heavier than 50 pounds) and placed beside the cart.
  • Small branches (no longer than five feet and no thicker than three inches in diameter) that do not fit into the green cart with the lid closed should be stacked into manageable bundles no heavier than 30 pounds.

A good rule of thumb: if it grows, it goes in your green composting cart.

Have other questions? You can learn even more at austintexas.gov/composting.