Drop-off Food Scraps

Please always help keep the area clean and bins free from trash. Only place compostables in the toters. Do not leave food scraps on the ground. Thank you for ensuring that these programs continue to be a success.

Cambridge residents may bring food scraps to:

  1. The Recycling Center during open hours only (Tuesdays & Thursdays 4pm-7:30pm and Saturdays 9am-4pm). We are closed to the public at all other times.

  2. The Cambridge Community Center at 5 Callender St also accepts food scraps from residents only. The toters for compost are kept on the Howard St side of the building.

  3. New St parking lot for Danehy Park. Collection bins are available to Cambridge residents 24 hours a day. 

No yard waste, soup, liquids or grease. Collect food waste in a reusable container like a kitty litter bucket. You can line the container with a compostable bag (i.e. Biobag sold at Whole Foods, Harvest Coop, Pemberton Farms, Tags Hardware, Cambridge Naturals), paper bag or plastic bag. If you use a plastic bag, you must empty contents into the toters and bring the dirty plastic bag home to dispose with your household trash.

Email us for program updates.

Can I compost in my backyard?

Yes! Learn more here.  

Even if you don't have outdoor space, you can compost indoors with worms. Read more about it on-line.

What is accepted?

  • All vegetable & fruit scraps
  • Coffee grounds, filters & tea bags
  • Eggshells & nutshells
  • Grains & baked goods
  • Meat, fish, bones, cheese (Please wrap in newspaper or paper bags)
  • Food-soiled napkins & paper towels (no tissues)
  • Food-soiled, biodegradable paper products
    (Only US Composting Council certified, no plastic coated. Click here for approved products.)
  • Wine corks (no plastic)

Collect food waste in a paper bag, 5-gallon pail or another reusable container. Reuse a kitty litter container as a food waste scrap bucket!

You can line your food waste collection container with a paper bag, compostable bag (US Composting Council certified) or a regular plastic bag. If you use a regular plastic bag, please empty it into the brown toter and bring the dirty plastic bag home to dispose with your household trash.

What is not accepted?

  • No soup
  • No liquids
  • No grease
  • No Chinese takeout containers
  • No plastic
  • No Styrofoam
  • No metal
  • No glass
  • No non-biodegradable items
  • No pet or human waste
  • No compostable diapers
  • No yard waste

Which paper products are biodegradable and certified by the US Composting Council?

Any food-soiled napkins, paper towels are OK. For plates, cups, trays, etc. visit the Biodegradable Products Institute website to see a list of approved products that have the US Composting Council logo.

Pizza boxes are OK. However, please help us maximize space in the toters by only bringing the food-soiled part of the box. Rip off the clean side of the pizza box and recycle with your papers for curbside pickup or in the cardboard compactor at the Center.

Can I bring yard waste to the Recycling Center?

No. Yard waste has never been accepted at the Center because we do not have the space for it. Please prepare yard waste for weekly curbside collection beginning the first FULL week in April through the second FULL week in December.

Why aren't tissues accepted?

We cannot accept anything soiled with human waste for sanitary reasons.

Why can't I compost soup, liquids or grease?

It is extremely important that we manage this program in a clean manner in the DPW yard to ensure that it is a continued success.

How often should I bring my food waste to a drop-off site?

Once a week is best, but at least 2x/month to avoid odors.

How can I minimize odors in my food waste collection container?

  • Rinse it out at home 
  • Use a paper bag as liner 
  • Compost napkins, paper towels and biodegradable paper products
  • Wrap meat in newspaper or paper bags 
  • Try freezing food scraps

Where will the food waste collected be composted?

Save That Stuff, a local recycling hauler, will pick up the food waste and bring it to a composting facilities in Massachusetts.

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Dept of Public Works

147 Hampshire St
Cambridge MA 02139


Hours of Service

Monday: 8:30am-8pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 8:30am-5pm
Friday: 8:30am-12pm

Recycling Center Hours
Tuesday & Thursday: 4:00pm-7:30pm  
Saturday: 9:00am-4:00pm