Compost Bins for Residents
Why Is Backyard Composting Important? volunteer training, the amount of bin subsidy (if
• The Legislature extended the State’s 50% any) and the level of promotion conducted.
material recovery goal from 2000 to 2009 Possible costs to include in a budget:
and set an interim goal of 45% by 2005. • Program administration (staff to design and
Oregonians are recycling more waste each oversee program)
year, but we also continue to send more • Bins (from $20 for a home-built type to over
waste to the landfill. $100 for commercial bins)
• Backyard composting helps to keep organic • Delivery costs (trucking, contracting with a
materials out of landfills, avoids the cost of group or firm for delivery)
Land Quality Division
hauling materials to a central composting • Program promotion (printed material, Solid Waste Policy and
site and turns waste into a useful garden advertisements, mail, etc.) Program Development
product. • Educational outreach (site use, refreshments, 811 SW 6th Avenue
• For residents, making and using compost instructors, etc.) Portland, OR 97204
Phone: (503) 229-5696
reduces the need to water as much in • Cost associated with the bin distribution (800) 452-4011
summer or apply as many pesticides and event (parking lot rental, rental of canopies Fax: (503) 229-5850
chemical fertilizers. Compost also helps to keep volunteers dry, directional signs, www.deq.state.or.us
plants grow better. coffee for volunteers, etc.)
• Communities that encourage backyard Costs for operating a bin distribution program
composting benefit by reducing water can often be reduced when local governments
demand and the amount of herbicides and work cooperatively to order bins, provide
pesticides in storm water run-off. workshops and promote the program.
• Compost use helps build the health of soils
by increasing soil organic mater, nutrients Some program options:
and water-holding capacity. • Free bins (no cost to resident). The cost to
the community of providing free bins may
Why Distribute Compost Bins? be offset through the avoided cost of
Communities distribute compost bins for many collection and handling yard trimmings in
of the same reasons they distributed recycling communities that operate their own
bins during the 1980's and early 1990's. People collection and/or solid waste disposal
respond enthusiastically to the availability of systems.
reduced-price or free bins and participation • Subsidized bins. This option is growing in
increases considerably. Residents who own bins popularity. The assumption is that residents
have a visible reminder of their intention to are more committed to composting if they
compost. make a personal investment in paying for
The community can benefit from increased the bin, as opposed to getting it for free.
residential participation through reduced Communities purchase bins at a reduced
municipal costs for managing yard trimmings. price and further discount the price to
Residents who normally pay for yard trimmings residents through a subsidy or rebate.
collection can save money by practicing Residents typically pay from 1/4 to 1/2 of
backyard composting. In Portland residents pay the retail cost of a bin.
for collection of yard debris whether they use it • At-cost bins. Communities can obtain bins
or not. Some people may be concerned that a bin at reduced or wholesale prices by ordering
distribution program will compete with the sale them in quantity from a distributor or
of compost bins at retail stores and garden manufacturer. They pass on the savings to
centers. Bin distribution programs generally residents by reselling the bins at cost.
target a much larger audience than the relatively Residents generally pay less for these bins
small percentage of interested gardeners and than if they bought them at a store or
recyclers that go to stores and purchase bins at through a mail-order catalog.
retail price. • The manufacturer/distributor provides news
releases, ad copy, publicity ideas, and
How Much Will It Cost? handles the ordering and shipping of the
Composting bin distribution programs have a bins.
number of associated costs in addition to the cost • Residents order the bins directly by phone or
of the bins. Cost will vary depending on the mail. Last Updated: 2/7/08
method of distribution selected, staff costs, By: M. Roberts-Pillon
• The manufacturer/distributor sends compost • At educational workshops
bins and informational booklets, imprinted • At compost demonstration sites
with the community's name, directly to the • At distribution points over a period of
purchaser. time at conveniently located facilities
such as garden store, library
Planning a Compost Bin Distribution • Mail-in/phone-in ordering and home
Communities may want to start with a pilot
• Blanket door-to-door delivery
program, particularly if resources are limited.
• Compost bin day/raffle/promotion
• Consider forming an advisory committee
• Hauler-based distribution
to solicit input and assistance from
Experience has shown that it is possible to over-
municipal staff, educational support persons,
publicize this event. The result can be that people
haulers, local retailers, Master Gardeners or
stand in line for a long time to find out there are
Master Composters, and other civic groups.
no more bins available.
Set some target goals and be sure to clearly
define roles and responsibilities for each Design a supportive educational
participating entity. program.
• Learn more about specific community Research has repeatedly shown that a person is
needs. Community survey is an excellent more likely to use items given to them if they
method for gaining this type of information. also receive some education about the item. At a
• Select recipients of the bins. What criteria minimum, informational booklets or pamphlets
will be used to identify recipients? should be provided with bins as they are sold or
Neighborhoods, income level, users of yard given away. Ideally an educational workshop or
debris drop-offs or curbside collection? a composting demonstration site is part of the bin
Only participants who attend workshops? Or distribution program.
those without composting experience? How
will criteria be assessed?
What strategies will be used to allocate bins Alternative Formats
if interest in the program exceeds the Alternative formats of this document can be
number of bins available? made available. Contact DEQ’s Office of
• Select bins to distribute Communications and Outreach, Portland, for
• Cost and durability - can they last for more information, at (503) 229-5696
• Ease of use - for assembling, adding
compostables, mixing and removing
• Aesthetic appearance - select styles that
blend well into the yard
• Moisture retention and aeration
• Recycled content - amount of recycled
content, especially from post-consumer
• Manufacturer: support literature,
warranty, ethics, ability to supply
regularly on-time, etc.
• Capacity and potential for expansion -
larger bins are better for wetter climates
• Car or truck friendliness - for
transportation to home sites
• Pet, rodent and insect resistance.
A good way to get lots of information about
bins is to put out a request for proposals
How and where will bins be distributed?
Since this should be a wasteshed-wide program,
consider distributing the bins at strategic
locations throughout the wasteshed, and not all
on the same day.