City of

organics news!

OCTOBER 2016 UPDATE: We are no longer accepting waxy paper products or soil in the organics cart. Waxy paper products are not breaking down quick enough for the composter, and soil is composed of inorganic material mostly, so that, too, would not be appropriate for the cart at this time. The collection flyer linked on this web site is now updated and now shows what we can accept in the program.

JULY 2016 UPDATE: The Streets Division will no longer supply the compostable bag liners to program participants. New enrollees will receive an initial supply, but in an effort to control program costs, we will not re-supply participants with bags afterJuly 11, 2016. Bags are not a requirement. In fact, going bagless or lining your kitchen collector with newspaper works great. If you would like purchase compostable liners for the collector, you can go to the Organics Resource page for stores in Madison that sell them, or you can purchase them online.

Please sign up to the email list for future important updates on the program. The sign up is on the right hand side of this very web page.

Introduction to the program

Last week's leftovers stinking up the fridge? That whole bunch of bananas that ripened too fast on your countertop? Bratwurst rolled off the grill and landed in some dirt? Put it in the organics cart!

The City of Madison Streets Division's Community Organic Recycling Effort works to divert organic material from the landfill. Currently, the material is hauled to Blue Ribbon Organics where it is turned into compost.

We can accept the following materials in the cart. If it is not in this list, then it should go into the refuse. If you aren't sure, contact us, and we'll let you know where it goes.

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Paper plates, paper towels, paper napkins, stained pizza boxes - any paper too food stained to recycle (no waxy items)
  • Dairy products and eggs (and their shells)
  • Coffee grounds with filter, and spent tea bags (but no strings)
  • House plants (no soil)
  • Pasta, bread, cereals, and rice
  • Meat, poultry, and fish - bones and all
  • Grease, sauces, soups and gravies.
  • Cakes, pies, cookies, and other pastries
  • Even a small amount of weeds and regular yard waste. (Nothing more than a handful or so of weeds or yard waste - do not fill the cart with this material)

Some items are absolutely not allowed in the organics program. Participants should never place plastic, metal, glass, diapers, hygiene products, and pet waste into the organics cart.

Currently, the Streets Division is only able to supply this service to limited section of the city. But we are growing. By the end of 2017, we aim to have 2,000 households and 60 businesses enrolled in this program.

Long term, the Streets Division seeks to take the food waste/organics to an anaerobic digester, much like the Envision Digester in Middleton or the UW-Oshkosh biodigester, where it is processed and turned into electricity and compost.


To stay informed on program news and expansion information, sign-up for the Madison CORE email list.

If you don't want to wait for the city program to reach your neighborhood, you can contact one of the private businesses that offer household organics collection for a fee.

Subscribe to the Household Organics Collection email list:

By participating on this list the Wisconsin Public Records Laws may subject your email address to disclosure to third parties. By selecting "Yes" you are requesting that we treat your email address that you have provided to this list as confidential and you are also stating that you would not participate in this service if the City is obligated to release your email address to such third party requesters.

Chicken Bones