Better Earth Composter Map

Dig into

Where to compost with Better Earth

Better Earth’s interactive composter map was created to help connect you with your local composter and track the incredible growth in composting infrastructure across the United States.

Whether you are a household looking to drop off your organic material or a business with big zero waste goals, our map can point you to your closest composting partners. This map includes composting facilities, haulers, and drop off locations that accept food waste and/or compostable packaging.

Please note: this map does not include community gardens or institutional composting programs housed at schools, colleges & universities, hospitals, correctional facilities, etc. We cannot guarantee those marked as accepting food waste accept all food waste. Always reach out to your local composter, hauling partner, or visit the website associated with your local drop-off site for a full list of materials accepted. We also cannot guarantee capacity at drop off locations, hauling services, or composting facilities. Businesses should always reach out to their local composting partner to right size their composting program.

Our Methodology

Better Earth’s Composter Map data was collected in 2023 by an internal Better Earth team, led by Circularity Coordinator Blair Michal. Michal and team meticulously cross-referenced existing state- and federal databases and conducted a state-by-state online search to gather new food scrap composting facilities, hauling companies, and drop-off locations. The data will be audited and updated annually.

If you’d like to add a composter or update the listed information, please reach out to the Better Earth Sustainability Team at [email protected].

Composter Map Key Terms

Let’s start by orienting with key terms and partners featured in the map.

Organic Material

Organic materials include grass clippings, leaves, tree trimmings, food scraps and certified compostable packaging, crop residues, animal manure, and biosolids (byproduct of wastewater treatment). Please utilize the filter tool within the Composter Map to understand which organic materials your local composter accepts.

Composting Facility

Composting facilities turn organic material into compost, a nutrient rich soil amendment. They use management techniques or technologies, such as physical turning, windrowing, aeration, in-vessel equipment, or aerobic digestion, to convert the materials, or “feedstocks,” into finished compost. Composting facilities range in scale from community scale (typically a neighborhood to a few neighborhoods) to commercial sale (typically services a whole city or region). Depending on the scale and technologies used, composters can transform the feedstock into finished compost within 45 to 180 days.

Hauler

While there are vertically integrated composters that do both the hauling and processing of the materials, you will most often need to partner with a hauling service to get your compostables to a composting facility. Haulers can be standalone businesses or part of a larger waste collection company such as those that service your landfill and recycling bins.

Drop Off Location

Where residents, and in some instances, businesses, can drop off their organic waste. From there, the community’s organic waste is picked up and taken to a composting facility. Drop off locations are a great way to create more access in more rural locations, where residential service is less feasible.

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Digging into the details: Composting access across the United States

The map illuminates just how many stakeholders are required to create a successful composting program. Through our research, we were able to better understand the total capacity available in the United States and associated infrastructure developed to support it, as well as capacity and interest to accept a variety of materials.

Through our research, we were able to identify 315 composting facilities that accept food waste servicing 43 states across the United States. 250 hauling companies support their efforts, and 457 compost drop-off sites are making it easier for American households to compost their organic material.

We also gathered insights into the materials accepted by these facilities. 47% of compost facilities represented in our map accept molded fiber compostable packaging and/or uncoated paper products (May 2024). 31% accept all certified commercially compostable packaging, including molded fiber, coated paper or fiber products, and bioplastics.

These findings complement ongoing research by BioCycle, the leading authority on organics recycling. BioCycle has been tracking residential access to food waste collection programs in the United States since 2005, and growth in full-scale food waste composting facilities in the United States since 2018.

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BioCycle’s 2023 survey-based research identified 230 full-scale food waste composting facilities and ultimately collected data from 200 facilities. Thanks to this approach, BioCycle was able to drill into key insights behind the results. For example, their survey results found 71% of participating facilities that already accept food waste will also accept some form of compostable packaging. The survey also found that overall acceptance of compostable packaging by participating composting facilities grew 58% since BioCycle’s 2018 survey. And 78% of composters who process food waste but do not allow compostable packaging cite confusion with conventional plastic packaging and products as the main reason.

To increase adoption of packaging materials, all research indicates third-party certification and clear, standardized labelling of compostable packaging is necessary. Certification programs such as the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) provide clear guidelines for assessing the compostability of packaging materials, including criteria for biodegradation, disintegration, and the absence of harmful residues, additives and substances.

Clear visibility of this label ensures that all stakeholders handling this packaging, from operators to consumers and composters, can readily identify and differentiate compostable packaging from greenwashing alternatives, and ensure its proper disposal and processing.

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We need more data

The more data that is collected, the clearer it becomes that the composting industry deserves a closer look. There is currently no federal mandate for standardized waste management data collection – which the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act, currently in Congress, would finally enable.

Nonetheless, our research and that of BioCycle clearly indicates incredible momentum. With over 1,000 data points in Better Earth’s Composter Map associated with composting food scraps and compostable packaging—including compost facilities, hauling partners, and drop-off locations—this represents exciting growth for composting infrastructure and access.

 This map also visualizes composting deserts, where there are no commercial composting facilities that accept food waste like Alabama, Delaware, Mississippi, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, & Wyoming. West Virginia does have one commercial composting facility at Marshall University, but it is not accessible to the public.

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A call to action

Nearly 40% of food is wasted and sent to landfills and only 5% is composted in the United States, leading to methane emissions and the exacerbation of climate impacts.  The Better Earth Composter Map serves as a pivotal tool, illuminating both existing composting infrastructure and clear gaps. Understanding this landscape can serve as a launching pad for informed decisions by households and policymakers alike to increase access to composting infrastructure and its associated ecosystem.

Want to help grow composting in your community? We recommend seeing if your state has a US Composting Council state chapter or reaching out to Better Earth’s sustainability team at [email protected].

 This map also visualizes composting deserts, where there are no commercial composting facilities that accept food waste like Alabama, Delaware, Mississippi, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, & Wyoming. West Virginia does have one commercial composting facility at Marshall University, but it is not accessible to the public.

Contact Us

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We look forward to hearing from you!

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