Did you know that residential food waste is responsible for 40 percent of the material that goes into the landfill? Scottsdale is committed to educating residents on how they can reduce this number in our community and has partnered with local businesses that can help you compost in your home, help you learn how donate unused food so it doesn't go to waste and make simple changes in your home that reduce food waste.

Why is this important? This amount of waste has far-reaching impacts on society:

  • Land, water, labor and energy are used in producing, processing, transporting, preparing, storing, and disposing of discarded food.
  • Wholesome food that could have helped feed families in need is sent to landfills.
  • You can help protect the environment by reducing pollution from food production, cut down on greenhouse gases and methane emissions, save money by buying and using wisely and reduce labor costs with efficient food practices.

The Impact of Food Waste

Just how much food do Americans waste? The United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 60 million tons — 120 billion pounds — every year. That's estimated to be almost 40 percent of the entire US food supply, and equates to 325 pounds of waste per person. That's like every person in America throwing 975 average sized apples right into the garbage — or rather right into landfills, as most discarded food ends up there.

In fact, food is the single largest component taking up space inside US landfills, making up 22 percent of municipal solid waste (MSW). All told, the amount of food wasted in America has an approximate value of nearly $218 billion — the equivalent of 130 billion meals.

Reducing food waste is easier than you think! Simple changes in how we shop, cook, eat and dispose of food can make a huge difference.

  • Plan meals and make deliberate grocery store shopping lists. Freeze food that can't be eaten immediately, but could be consumed at a later date.
  • Share the wealth. Donate food to food pantries or deliver leftovers to people who may need it.
  • Learn how to compost to keep food scraps out of landfills, and the amount of greenhouse gases from rising.
  • Learn more food storage tips.

Reducing Food Waste in Your Home

Consider these tips before making future food purchases

  • Make a shopping list on how many meals you expect to eat at home before your next shopping trip. By buying no more than what you expect to use, you will be more likely to use it up and keep it fresh.
  • Make sure to shop your refrigerator, counter, and cupboards before heading to the store to avoid buying extra.
  • Buy in bulk when possible so you can purchase only the amount you need.
  • Try to buy local and in-season produce as it will last longer that food shipped long distances.

Learn how to keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer

  • Store produce so it stays fresh longer with the help of the A-Z Food Storage Guide
  • Ripe fruits like bananas, tomatoes, and apples produce gases that make other produce ripe, so store separately if you can.
  • To prevent mold, wash berries just before you eat them.

Prepare your food now and eat it later

  • By preparing perishable foods as soon as possible, preferably post-shopping, you'll make it easier to serve snacks and meals later in the week, saving time, effort and money.
  • Store prepped food in air-tight storage containers to preserve freshness.
  • At the beginning of the week, cook in large batches and store in meal-sized containers, for easy meals throughout the week. This will also make it easy to freeze if you can't get to it all in time.

Eat What You Buy

  • Your freezer is your friend! If you know you aren't going to finish an item in time, throw it in the freezer to extend its life by months or more.
  • Even if your berries, carrots, or other produce are no longer fresh enough to eat raw, they are still great for using in a smoothie, soup, stir-fry, or other meals.
  • If you aren't sure how to use an item that you need to get rid of, check out this webpage full of great recipes for using up leftovers.
  • If you aren't sure how to use an item you need to get rid of or are looking for great recipes for using up leftovers visit the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for inspiration!

Tips from the USDA

Tips to Reduce Food Waste at Home:

Tips to Reduce Food Waste at Home:

Plan Ahead to Reduce Food Waste:

Serve Smart to Reduce Food Waste:

Love Your Leftovers to Reduce Food Waste:


Composting transforms organic materials, often considered waste, into a rich soil conditioner. This recycling process not only reduces landfill waste but also rejuvenates the Earth. Whether you're interested in backyard composting or participating in a broader community effort, there are resources available to guide you.

For those eager to learn about existing recycling programs, the EPA's Managing and Transforming Waste Streams Tool provides insights into real-world initiatives. To locate a composting facility nearby, findacomposter.com is an invaluable directory. When you compost, remember it's a commitment to nourishing both our soil and future.

Composting 101

Composting requires attention to five crucial areas:

Balancing Green and Brown Materials
Perfect compost mixes "green" elements like grass clippings and food remnants with "brown" components such as dried leaves. Greens supply nitrogen while browns contribute carbon.
Size Matters
Decomposition accelerates with smaller material pieces. However, ensure good airflow by avoiding excessively tiny fragments
Moisture is Essential
Just like us, composting microbes need hydration. Rely on natural rainfall or supplement with additional water when necessary.
Aerate for Efficiency
Turn the compost regularly or introduce materials like wood chips to enhance airflow and quicken decomposition.
Keep It Warm
A toasty compost pile indicates it's active. Aim for a core temperature around 140° F to steer clear of rotting.

What can you compost?

Fruits and vegetablesYard trimmings
EggshellsGrass clippings
Coffee grounds and filtersHouseplants
Tea bagsCactus
Nut Shells
Dryer lintWood chips
Shredded paperHair and fur
Hay and strawPaper
Do Not Compost
Oleander bushesReleases substances that might be harmful to plants
Coal or charcoal ashMight contain substances harmful to plants
Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggsCreate odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
Diseased or insect-ridden plantsDiseases or insects might survive and be transferred back to other plants
Fats, grease, lard, or oilsCreate odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
Meat or fish bones and scrapsCreate odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)Might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans
Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticidesMight kill beneficial composting organisms

How to Begin Composting at Home

Collection Set-Up
Store food remnants in a sealed kitchen container. Allocate an outdoor space for other compostable materials.
Choose a Location
Designate a yard spot with excellent drainage, ensuring year-round accessibility. Avoid placing against fences.
Select a Bin
Opt for wire, wood, or cinder blocks. Tumblers are also an alternative.
Fragment materials for faster breakdown.
Start with an airflow layer, then layer greens and browns, maintaining a damp consistency. Browns should outnumber greens 2-3 to 1.
Aim for a temperature between 130° and 160° F and adjust accordingly.
Allow the compost to cure for a month post-decomposition. It should resemble dark, moist soil. Use a DIY screener for unfinished materials and avoid rodents with proper bin maintenance.

Learn At-Home Composting:

Video Courtesy: Discover Permaculture. For more information about Geoff Lawton's PDC, visit Discover Permaculture website.

Specialty Composting Methods

Recycled City - Curbside Composting Collection Services

Dive into a sustainable future with Recycled City's curbside composting collection. Upon registration, you'll receive a free composting collection bucket along with an odor preventer. Throughout the week, use your bucket to gather food scraps. They handle your compost pick-up, exchanging your used bucket with a fresh one and replenishing your odor preventer supply. But it's not just about waste reduction; by composting with Recycled City, you can earn delightful rewards, including starter plants and produce from local farms.

Let's Go Compost - Worm Compost & Free Bins

Venture into the fascinating world of worm composting with Let's Go Compost. Not only do they advocate for sustainable composting practices, but they also upcycle empty bulk ingredient bins into food-safe worm compost bins, generously donating them back to the community. However, note that composting worms (Red Wiggler) aren't included and should be sourced separately. If you're in Scottsdale, Arizona, you can pick up these free bins during specific dates, as announced on their social media and email updates. Click here to stay informed.

At Home Kitchen Solutions - Electric Composters

Electric composters are reshaping our composting methods. These devices, also referred to as electric compost bins or tumblers, expedite the composting process using heat, aeration, and pulverization. Generally, electric composters work in three main phases:

The units reach an internal temperature of approximately 160℉, mimicking the natural heat of a compost pile, to sterilize the waste and reduce its volume significantly.
The unit's gears turn and grind the reduced food waste, converting them into small or powder-like particles that act as a quick-release fertilizer, integrating seamlessly into the soil.
The last phase ensures the content and unit return to room temperature, ensuring safety and continuing the aeration and dehumidification.

However, a distinction is vital. Electric composters are not traditional composters. While they break down food waste using aeration and heat, the end-product is dry and sterile, differing from the moist, bacteria-rich output of traditional composting. Thus, while electric composters may not offer the dense topsoil desired by avid gardeners, they provide a quick, hassle-free alternative for those looking for a dry, odorless fertilizer to nourish their plants.

For those interested in exploring electric composting options, we encourage you to conduct research to find the electric composter that best fits your specific needs. With numerous products available, it's essential to compare features, reviews, and pricing to make an informed decision that aligns with your composting goals. Happy composting!

Food Donation

The City of Scottsdale & Waste Not

The Vista del Camino Food Bank provides food boxes filled with essential foods to supplement the food budget of needy families and food bags forpeople experiencing homelessness. Items most needed at this time are Jams/Jellies, Peanut Butter, Pasta, Pasta Sauce, Canned Tomatoes, Cereal, Mac 'n' Cheese, Canned Fruit, & Canned Meats.

Food donations must be in the original packaging, unopened and not expired. Drop off at:

7700 E Roosevelt St.
Scottsdale, AZ 85257

(along the east driveway; follow the blue signs)

Last Updated: Jun 27, 2024

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Solid Waste

9191 E. San Salvador Drive Scottsdale, AZ 85258
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