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Food scraps pickup program: a new way to recycle food scraps from home! 

County Perspectives

Ramsey and Washington counties are working together to bring residents a new way to recycle food scraps from home—the food scraps pickup program! Over 20% of household trash in Ramsey and Washington counties is food scraps like fruit peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, bones and more. By separating your food scraps, you can help turn them into soil instead of waste. Recovering food scraps from trash provides health, environmental and economic benefits to the community. 

The program is currently available to residents of Maplewood, North St. Paul, Cottage Grove and Newport and will continue to be introduced into neighborhoods in the coming years. It will still be some time before this program is available to the City of St. Paul as we work closely with facilities and partners on expanding infrastructure to sort food scrap bags across the two counties.  

How does the program work? 

The food scraps pickup program uses special compostable bags called ‘food scrap bags’ that will be co-collected with your trash and later sorted for composting. These food scrap bags are specifically designed for the program—they are thicker than compostable bags found at the grocery store and are designed to withstand the trip in a garbage truck before they are sorted.

To participate, you must use the free program-provided food scrap bags. Eligible residents can order their annual free supply of food scrap bags at or call 651-661-9393. The bags will ship directly to your home! Once you receive your order, simply collect your food scraps in your food scrap bags, then once the bag is full, tie a knot at the top and place the bag inside your trash cart or dumpster for collection. 

When this is available in St. Paul, here’s how it will work:

  1. Order your free supply of food scrap bags.
  2. Collect your food scraps in the bags. Once a week or when the bag is full, tie a knot at the top to close the bag.
  3. Place your bag inside your trash cart or dumpster for collection.
  4. Done! The food scraps will now be composted.

One of the exciting new technologies that make this possible are small “robots” that can identify the food scrap bags and separate them at our recycling and composting center.

When will I be able to participate? 

The program is in the process of rolling out to all residents of Ramsey and Washington counties over multiple years. To see if the program is currently available to you, visit and click ‘Sign Up’. We are not ready to introduce it to St. Paul right away, as we get all the parts of the process working, but I know our residents are excited and I encourage you to sign up to receive email notifications about when the food scraps pickup program becomes available to new areas in Ramsey and Washington counties at

Also, if you are not yet eligible to participate, you can join St. Paul residents who collect scraps in bags and utilize one of Ramsey County’s many food scraps drop-off sites! Find the closest drop-off site to you and start putting your food scraps to work:


Visit for more resources including how-to videos, frequently asked questions and collection and storage tips! To contact a customer service representative, complete a contact form on the program website or call 651-661-9393.

The program website, resources and phone line are all available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Oromo and Karen.

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