What is Composting?

Composting is a practical and convenient way to handle organic wastes.   Yard wastes and food waste can be composted and turned into a dark, crumbly, earth-smelling material that can be used in gardens, on lawns and around trees and shrubs.   Composting is also a great way to divert waste from incinerators and increase recycling.   The City is working in several different ways to increase composting efforts.  

Outdoor Backyard Composting Workshop - Located at the City's Compost Bin Demonstration Garden, 131 River Road, on September 23, 10-11:30 am.  Rain Date September 24.   Learn, and see, the different types of compost bins available, how to compost and what to do with finished compost.  Join two UConn Master Composters and the City Recycling Coordinator for outdoor demonstration of composting.   

Backyard Composting 101  (Virtual Event)- Russell Library presentation on Oct. 18 at 6pm.  Learn how to compost, why it is important, the different types of bins that are available, how it works, and how to do it easily with little little fuss.  Registration required:

Fall 2024 Compost Bin and Rain Sale.   Information here.

Watch a short Recreation Recycles video on backyard composting here. 

Backyard Composting 

It is easy and fun to compost at home with a backyard composting bin.   The City occasionally holds community compost bin sales and workshops in the spring and fall.    You can compost with or without a bin.  By adding carbon materials (such as leaves, sawdust, woodchips) with nitrogen-rich materials (food waste, grass clipping) you can end up with a nutrient rich, soil like material for your gardens.  Middletown City Hall manages a backyard composting bin for City Hall.   If you want to see it contact the City Recycling Coordinator or find more information on Home Composting can be found here.  

What Can I Compost?   

Here's a list of 104 items you can put in your backyard compost bin. You want to make sure you add enough carbon rich (brown) material with the nitrogen rich (green) material. Usually  3 parts brown to 1 part green is a good ratio.  If you have too much green material it just become a stinky mess. Your bin also needs oxygen and moisture. Mix it occasionally with a pitch fork or aerator  and make sure it isn't too wet, or too dry.  It should be the consistency of a wrung out sponge.

Please note that our Recycling Center drop off and commercial food waste collections accept more types of food waste than what is recommended for your backyard bin.  We recommend never to put meat, dairy or greasy items in your backyard bin.  Also, note that bones, cobs, and shells will take a lot longer to compost in a backyard bin.     

Food Scrap Drop offs 

Can't compost at home?  No problem! Food Scraps can be brought to one of our food scrap drop off locations at no charge. Please note, that the food scrap drop offs can take items such as meat, bones, shellfish and dairy products that you should not put in your backyard compost bin.  Absolutely NO plastic bags.  ONLY BPI certified compostable bags are acceptable. 

 Drop offs are located at: 

  • The Middletown Recycling Center, Monday - Friday 7am - 2:45 pm or first and third Saturday of the month, 7am - 11:45am, April - June & Sept - Nov, it is open every Saturday.  
  • Emergency Management Garage, 675 Randolph Road. 
  • Middletown Farmers Market, June - October.

The Food Scraps will be taken to the anaerobic digester in Southington and turned into clean energy and a soil amendment.  

More information on this program, can be found here.  

Curbside Collection of Compost 

The is providing curbside collection in the Sanitation District (with green bags for food scraps; orange bags for trash).  Unfortunately, at this point, there is no curbside option for food waste collection for residents, unless a group of residents pooled together and paid for a commercial cart from one of the food waste haulers. 

Commercial Composting 

Many of our businesses have started separating organic waste for composting and anaerobic digestion.   This makes such a big difference.   The more we can divert from the typical waste stream, the better for us and our environment.   When you visit an establishment, ask what they do with their waste and if they have considered composting or anaerobic digestion. Check out our Feed The Earth page to learn about our restaurant food scrap collection program. Some businesses are mandated by state law to separate food scraps.  Information on that law is available here.  More information can be received from the City Recycling Coordinator.  

City’s efforts

Besides managing a compost bin at City Hall, the City has collected organics at several public events such as the Open Air Market at the Wadsworth Mansion and the Hartford Marathon Road Races.  Volunteer Recycling Educators have staffed the trash and recycling stations to help participants separate their waste properly.  Recycling and Composting efforts at these events have reduced the trash generated significantly.  Recycling Commission volunteers have also brought in a water station, where shoppers could get a drink of water with a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing bottled water.   

The City has initiated food scrap diversion at many restaurants and public schools in the Sanitation District.    Our Feed the Earth Program has collected over 600,000 lbs of food scraps and with the help of Blue Earth Compost and Quantum Biopower, have turned those scraps into clean energy and compost.  Our schools are also composting in their kitchens and MacDonough School has started composting food scraps from the cafeteria.  The City's Sanitation District has implemented a co-collection program 

The City has collected and composted leaves for decades.  Currently leaves go to a local farm where they are composted in windrows.  In the spring, the City makes available compost material from the city’s leaves.   Watch the Public Works Facebook Page  or sign up for Recycling Communications for information about when the compost is available.  

Brush and Christmas trees are also collected to be chipped.  Woodchips are available at the Recycling Center at no charge. Large dump truck loads can be delivered to Middletown residents for use on their property.   Please note, these woodchips are not uniform in size, nor are they treated in any way. The City does not recommend using them near any building or on any play area.   A waiver form  must be signed and notarized to allow the City to deliver the woodchips onto your property.  

EarthmachineComposting and Rain Barrel Sale 

The Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments and the  City of Middletown work together to offer community  compost bin and rain barrel sales in the spring and the fall. Our Fall 2023 Community Sale is happening now!  Compost Bins and Rain Barrels can be ordered on line at:   Orders must be placed by Oct. 20, 2023 and picked up in Middletown or Old Saybrook on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023.   

Need more information on how to compost with an Earth Machine?   Check out this helpful information from the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory.  

compostBackyard Composting 101 Workshop - Archived Workshop! 

Learn about Backyard Composting  with UConn Master Composters, Danielle Butsch and Ruth Eckhoff.  This was recorded March 2021.  Have questions after watching? Contact the Middletown Recycling Coordinator for answers!