Want to keep your food waste out of the waste stream but don’t want to do it yourself?  There are several different options available – at Needham’s RTS and with some area businesses.

new program to help reduce Needham’s food waste began on Nov. 3, 2021 and is available to all Needham residents for free.  You drop off your food waste, including  meat and dairy, to a special bin at the Needham RTS.  The food waste is picked up by our partner, Agri-Cycle, and delivered to their facility in Maine where it is turned into energy.  The Needham Public Schools are participating!

Here’s how the program works:

    1. Separate your solid (not liquid) food waste and place it in a bag
      • The bags are very important to prevent rodents and odors
      • Paper and plastic bags are accepted. Plastic bags are mechanically separated and disposed of as trash
      • See below for a list of acceptable food
    2. Bring your bags of food waste to the RTS and drop them in the green bins in the clearly labeled “Food Waste Recycling” area
      • If you don’t have an RTS sticker, they are free!  Just drop by the Town Treasurer’s Office at the Needham Town Hall, 1471 Highland Ave and pick one up!

Acceptable food waste items:

  • All food items are recyclable for this program (meats and seafoods including small bones, dairy, bread, fruit, etc.).  However, residents should NOT place the following in the food waste recycling barrels:
    • NO liquids. This includes juice/soda/milk/grease/cooking oil. Sauces, such as apple sauce, are fine provided they are not in a plastic container
    • NO non-organic materials  in with the food waste (straws, utensils, cups, lids, etc.)
    • NO pet waste
    • NO yard waste

What happens to all that food?

  • The food is picked up by our partner Agri-Cycle and brought to an anaerobic digester to be turned into biogas for energy
  • Any plastic bags will be separated out by the machinery and disposed of as trash


Still  want to compost your food waste, but want someone else  to worry about all the details?  There are several local companies that, for a fee, will pick up the food waste of both residential and business customers and compost it at their facility.  Some companies will accept meat and dairy; others only fruits and vegetables.  They provide everything you need so it’s easy to participate.   See below list of local composting companies.*

Bootstrap Compost

A residential & commercial food scrap pickup service. They use 5-gallon buckets outfitted with a compostable liner and tight-fitting lid. Each week or every other week, a Bootstrap rep will swap out your full bucket with a clean replacement bucket. All residential customers are eligible to receive soil amendment each year, available upon request. To learn more about their education-driven mission, visit bootstrapcompost.comContact 617-642-1979 | info@bootstrapcompost.com

Black Earth Compost (BEC)

A commercial & residential food waste hauler, recycler and composter since 2011. The company can handle all food waste, as well as non-food, certified compostable items which they recycle into valuable soil amendments. Black Earth Compost also provides curb-side textile recycling for its residential customers. In the spring customers receive a voucher for a cubic foot bag of compost. Pricing and sign-ups available online.
Black Earth Compost

City Compost

Another residential & commercial food scrap pickup service.  Fill up the kitchen container with compostables throughout the week and empty this into your City Compost collection bucket that is picked up right by the road and replaced with a fresh one. All food types are accepted, plus napkins, paper towels, and other compostable items. Compost can be received back for use in home gardens, or it will go towards local, sustainable farms.  Visit www.citycompost.com to learn more or contact them directly at info@citycompost.com or 978-378-3048.

Reconsidering  whether you  can compost your food waste at home?  It’s easier than you think – learn more about how you can do this.

*Note: This list does not constitute an endorsement by Green Needham Collaborative for any individual company nor do we guarantee their services; we recommend you ask for and review references before contracting their services.

Updated July 2023