Updated: March 6, 2023

Special Bulletin

A1 Organics, which operates THE ONLY permitted large-scale compost manufacturing facility serving the Front Range community, has made changes to the materials they will accept for composting.

Due to the high levels of contamination in the compostables stream, they cannot sell their finished compost product made from community collection programs and are calling for a cleaner stream of organics (what you put into your compost cart).

The updated compost rules are simple!

Two categories ONLY:

Food Scraps: Produce, bread, bones, meat, cheese, eggshells, coffee grounds (no coffee filters), etc. REMOVE ALL produce decals, rubber bands, strings, twist-ties, and anything that is NOT food.

Yard & Plant Trimmings: Leaves, twigs, branches, flowers, grass, and yard trimmings.

Place items LOOSE (unbagged) in your compost cart. That’s it!

Q: Which items are NO LONGER ACCEPTED in the compost?

If it isn’t food scraps or yard & plant trimmings, it doesn’t go in your curbside compost bin. Here are some common materials that ARE NO LONGER ALLOWED:

  • Paper products; including tissues, paper towels, and napkins, tissue paper, brightly colored paper, paper scraps and shredded paper, tea bags, and coffee filters (please dump coffee grounds into compost bin and trash the filter)
  • Food-soiled or greasy pizza boxes (please compost leftover crusts, throw away the greasy half of the box and recycle the clean half)
  • All compostable packaging and products, even those that are certified compostable; including cups, utensils, plates, and takeout containers.
  • Compostable bags larger than 3-gallon size
  • Paper yard bags

All these items now belong in the trash.

Note that there are two exceptions to the “no bag” rule:

  1. You ARE allowed to use the small, 3-gallon CMA-certified countertop compostable bags. Click here for a list of CMA-approved brands.
  2. Western Disposal customers may continue to use brown paper lawn bags to contain yard waste OUTSIDE THE CART. The contents will be emptied by Western staff upon arrival at our transfer station. The bags themselves will not be composted due to A1 restrictions. Please do not use paper bags for material inside your cart.

Q: What do I do if I can’t put my compost in a bag?

Save money and go bag free! You don’t need to bag your recycled organic materials (aka compost). In your indoor compost container, go bag free and simply rinse out your container. Put your food scraps and plant & yard trimmings loose in your cart. If it’s stinky, give it a quick rinse from the hose (do NOT include soap that will create residue in wastewater), swish it around in the cart, and pour the water directly onto your lawn or trees. If you have grass clippings or fallen leaves, you can line your curbside compost bin with a thin layer of grass or leaves to help absorb moisture.

Q: Why can’t I still compost “certified compostable” products and paper?

There are multiple reasons:

  • For every certified compostable product (such as cutlery, tableware, cups, straws, and compostable bags) you might come across, there are several more “look-alikes” that mislead customers into thinking these items are compostable (using terms like “biodegradable,” or “plant-based”) when in truth they often contain non-compostable plastics.
  • Unfortunately, the volume of contamination A1 receives due to misleading labeling makes any packaging or service ware item too costly to accept because of the challenge of distinguishing and sorting certified compostables from “look-alike” products that are not compostable.
  • The same is true for paper. Many papers, like coffee cups and many “to go” paper containers, are coated in plastic, leaving microplastics in the compost.
  • Compostable bags often contain and conceal non-compostable contamination.
  • To simplify the stream and ensure there is NO contamination, A1 Organics does not want any packaging, service ware, or paper of ANY kind.

Q: What if I know I have certified compostable products? Can I still put them in the bin?

Beginning April 1, 2023, A1 has notified us that the inclusion of paper, compostable products, and non-compostables will result in a rejection of the load and it will instead be sent to the landfill. Please do NOT include any paper (not even coffee filters or greasy pizza boxes), and no compostable products, even if they are labeled as certified compostable.

Q: What will happen if contamination is found in a load of compost?

Contaminated compost loads will be rejected by A1 and sent to the landfill. For this reason, Western will be monitoring cart and container contents where possible and will not be transporting any compost loads we deem too contaminated to pass inspection at A1.