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Composting at Apartments & Multifamily

A young woman stands outside, emptying a bucket full of food scraps into a large green compost bin.
How to set up food scrap compost collection at multifamily properties. This includes apartments, condos, townhomes, and any residential community with five or more units.
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Do you live in an apartment or multifamily community? Review the information below and then talk with your Property Manager about adding compost.

While composting isn’t required, it is increasingly popular with residents. Before kicking off a composting program at your multifamily property, determine if you’re set up for success or whether it’s best to hold off.

What to consider before setting up compost

Evaluate your current system

Is your recycling and garbage collection working well now? Are residents sorting waste correctly? Do you have enough waste containers and space so the waste area remains clean? If not, you'll want to make improvements before adding compost.

Contact us if you’d like support making improvements or need a recycling refresher to share with your residents.

Assess interest

Composting is most successful when at least half of your residents participate. You’re also more likely to see a measurable decrease in garbage. Send an email survey or post a tear-off sheet near the mailboxes to assess interest at your property.

Talk with your garbage and recycling company

Ask your garbage and recycling company about: 

  • Number of compost bins needed
  • If you have the space for compost bins
  • How often compost bins will need to be collected
  • Cost of compost service

How to set up composting

If you've done all of the above, and decided you're in a good position to start composting at your community, follow these steps for a successful start to composting.

Update your waste area

Add signage to your collection area that shows what's allowed in each bin: food scraps, recycling, glass, and garbage. Make sure all collection containers are clearly stickered. Free signs and stickers are available through us.

Prevent odor issues

It’s your responsibility to keep the food scrap container clean. Store the container outside and out of the sun, whenever possible. Line newspaper along the bottom of the container to help reduce smell. Ask maintenance staff to wash out the container regularly (using non-toxic soap and water). Check with your garbage and recycling company to see if they offer bin cleaning services.

Educate residents

Make sure residents know about the new composting program, including:

What's allowed in compost: First, make sure you've confirmed with your garbage and recycling whether your compost is Food Only or Food and Yard Waste. Then share what can (and can't) go in compost.

Kitchen bins: Residents will need containers to collect compost and carry it down to the main compost bins. If you can, provide kitchen compost pails to help them get set up. Metro sells the Sure Close kitchen composter for $8. Call 503-234-3000 for details. Otherwise, just about any container with a lid will work for collecting food scraps.

Bin liners: Lining your kitchen compost container with paper, paper bags or BPI-certified compostable bags is not required, but it can make it easier to keep clean. If using bags, the 2-3 gallon size should fit countertop containers.

Tips to avoid smells and fruit flies: 

  • Drain as much liquid as possible from food before putting in your kitchen container.
  • Store your food scraps collection container in the freezer. (This can be done temporarily if you start to have a fruit fly problem.)
  • Empty and rinse out your kitchen container frequently. Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom can also reduce smells.