Map: Who Composts? - Modern Farmer

Map: Who Composts?

Does your city offer compost? Help us fill in our map of the US and Canada, and let us know what your municipality does with food waste.

Photography by Shutterstock.

There are roughly 400 compost programs offered throughout 25 states in the US, and across Canada, roughly three-quarters of residents compost. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the top 50 most populous cities and municipalities across the two countries, to see who is composting.

Along the way, we found some interesting data: Roughly 83 percent of folks in Vancouver compost. New York City diverts more than eight million pounds of organic waste from landfills every year. Many cities, including Boston, San Jose, and San Antonio, provide compost back to residents for use in home gardens. Most importantly, in each of these cities, there is some sort of compost program accessible to residents.

If your city doesn't offer a compost program, you may be able to change that. Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Look for community compost groups. Many organizations, including community gardens or environmental clubs, hold seminars or introductory panels on how to start composting. Get up to speed on what’s offered in your area; in addition to learning the composting basics, you might be able to join a network that’s already established. You can also search for a local composter here, or use this EPA map to find opportunities to divert excess food near you. 
  • Make your voice heard. If your city does not offer a compost program, let the waste management department know you want one! One of the biggest hurdles to starting a pilot program is ensuring that there are enough residents interested in composting in the first place. Make it clear that you want to participate in a program, which makes it much easier for city officials to greenlight one. There are also resources to help municipalities as they get started, including this template from the US Composting Council which helps cities look at land use ordinances and classifications. 
  • Look at the zoning bylaws. Many municipal bylaws were written decades ago, and they may not be up to date with the best waste management strategies for cities. But when city officials see that there is interest from the public, they have more reason to look at updating those bylaws, or looking at new ways of waste diversion. 

For more on how to get your city to start composting, read our Q&A with a composter here.

Want to add your city to our map? Fill out the form below, and let us know what composting is like where you live.

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a small world cup
2 months ago

The fact that many cities offer compost back to residents is fantastic. It creates a closed-loop system and encourages urban gardening.

2 months ago

I’m really confused about this. We compost (my family). I don’t understand this concept of a community or city compost. Why would I want the city to pick it up and compost it for me? I use the compost in my garden. Why not just compost yourself and use it.
Anyway, I checked and Indianapolis does not have such a program, but there are a couple private companies. Again, I don’t understand why we are paying private companies to pick up compost, compost it for us, and then supposedly return it to customers when we could just do it ourselves.