Fairfax: Learn About Your New Kitchen Compost Pail


Marin Sanitary Service delivered kitchen compost pails to its Fairfax customers during the week of November 6th. The pail fits on a kitchen counter or under the sink, making it convenient for residents to collect their food waste. The program was created to encourage participation in a community effort to move Fairfax closer towards its ambitious zero waste goals.

Marin Sanitary initiated the green cart program for residential yard waste in the late 1980’s, and added food waste in 2010. The program has been successful in capturing yard waste, but only a small percentage of households use the green carts for food waste. According to the most recent Marin Sanitary Waste Characterization study in 2014, food still accounts for about 29% of Marin County’s Residential Waste Stream.

Why is this important?  Following in the footsteps of San Francisco and Alameda, the Fairfax Town Council approved the first step of an ordinance that will prohibit residents from placing food and yard waste in the landfill cart. These efforts are critically important, given that food and other organic matter rotting in the landfill produces a significant amount of methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas (GHG) 30x more potent than carbon dioxide. In the US, 40% of our food is wasted and most ends up in the landfill.

According to the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of GHG after the US and China.

Your new kitchen pail makes it easier for you to capture food discards, and empty them into your curbside green cart! 


1. What do I do if I already have a kitchen pail for food scraps?

* You may return the pail to Town Hall for use by Sustainable Fairfax for education and giveaways.  

* They make excellent gifts!

2. Can I use a biodegradable/compostable plant-based plastic bag to line the pail?

*NO.  Plant-based plastic bags are not accepted at the Redwood Landfill compost facility. Why? The residential green cart contents are processed into EarthCare™ compost that is certified for organic farming. Compostable plastic bags, cups and cutlery do not fit the criteria required for organic compost. Paper and leaves may be used to line your pail (see #3 below).

3. How do I keep the pail from smelling up my kitchen?

*Many people do not notice a smell from the pail. However, if this is a problem,  line the pail with newspaper, other recyclable paper or a paper bag, then dump the contents of the pail into your curbside green cart. You may also mix in leaves or other yard waste in the pail to absorb liquids and reduce odor.

4. Can I put meat, bones and dairy products in my green curbside cart?

*Yes!  All food and soiled paper/cardboard can go in your green cart.  See the full Marin Sanitary list here.  

5. Should I put my kitchen pail on the curb for collection?

*No.  Please place the contents of your green pail inside the green curbside cart.

Please call or email Sustainable Fairfax with any questions or concerns you may have about using your kitchen pail or any information you would like regarding zero waste initiatives, reuse, recycling and composting

Sustainable Fairfax:  415-408-6008  /  sustainfx@gmail.com

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