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Compostable paper and plastic products are defined as any single-use item utilized to serve food to customers that will breakdown into compost. Being able to compost your organic waste with some of your consumer waste keeps even more items out of traditional waste streams and is a great environmentally friendly solution.


There are now a number of manufacturers of compostable products offering single-use products ranging in scope from food trays to cups, from forks to compostable spoons, and everything in between.

It still sounds simple, everybody should do this! What's the catch?

While we encourage our customers to explore the compostable product alternatives available, the truth is that while there is a wide variety of "compostable" items, many of them are processed in different ways. At TOR, we only accept items that are certified for windrow composting. This is the method that we utilize for commercial composting, adding our "browns" and "greens" into a long pile called a windrow.

St. Louis Composting's Belleville Facility

St. Louis Composting's Belleville, IL windrow composting facility.

Windrow Turner

A specialized windrow turner rotating the compost and introducing oxygen to the row.

CMA Logo

With this consideration, if you want to explore these eco-friendly alternatives to traditional plastics and paper serving products, you can visit our friends at the Composting Manufacturers Alliance (CMA) to select items in a wide variety of design styles and capacities that are tested and certified compostable for the windrow method of composting. On their website, you will find items designated at CMA-W. Any product listed there with this designation is accepted by Total Organics Recycling. If you have questions about other products under consideration, feel free to call us for clarification and acceptance.

If you require any further assistance, feel free to contact Laura Gale at 636-825-6206 and we'll help you find a compostable product solution!


First, let us say this is what you can compost with us, this is not necessarily a home composting guide. We are a commercial composter, our piles get nice and hot and are constantly monitored in the field. As a result of the heat we are able to maintain, our compost piles break down in 3-6 months and can include a wider variety of items.


Home composting can also be very rewarding and successful, but the items you should include in your home pile don't necessarily include what we can take and break down below. If you're interested in exploring home composting, CLICK HERE.



The general rule of thumb is, IF IT GROWS, IT GOES. This includes all fruit and vegetable waste. One small note, please try to remove any stickers that might be on your produce. 


All bakery items are fine for composting, this includes raw dough. While you don't necessarily want to include dairy in your home composting since it might attract animals, dairy is fine for your tote. Egg shells do not need to be rinsed, just throw them in your tote.


Coffee grinds and tea bags are fine to go into your tote. You can even include your coffee filters and no need to break up your tea bags, you can put those in bag, string, tag and all.


While some cooked meat is OK to go into your tote (especially from the front-of-house waste), we want to minimize the amount that we add. Try to keep this to a minimum and always avoid uncooked meats. Other food items are perfectly fine to go into your composting. If some oil is included, make sure it is vegetable oil, but try to keep that to a minimum. If you are recycling your organic waste from the front-of-house, make sure ALL serviceware is certified compostable (forks, spoons, knives, trays, packaging, and bowls). Resources can be found here, selecting CMA-W items, CMA-W Products – Compost Manufacturing Alliance.



This is the item that confuses everyone. Regular cardboard should stay with your conventional single-stream recycling efforts (paper, plastic, aluminum). Most single-stream recyclers don't want things like dirty, greasy pizza boxes, we can take those.




Plastic bags that are compostable are available in the marketplace. We have clients that will use compostable bag liners which are acceptable. However, conventional plastic bags are not something we want in our totes. The same goes for any plastic that you would recycle with another service, like how we recycle our plastics at home and have them picked up by our waste contractor. If it is not specifically labeled as compostable, feel free to recycle it by another means, but don't put it in your tote.


Single-stream is the term used for the recycling most of us are familiar with already, plastics, paper, cardboard, and aluminum. While we want to keep this material out of the landfill, it does not qualify as organic waste we will compost.


We've mentioned we don't want plastic bottles before so it sounds like we are repeating ourselves! However, it is critical that all plastics that are not compostable stay out of your tote. It is especially important to keep styrofoam and glass/ceramics out of your composting.


Thank you for your business and your efforts to keep food waste out of the landfill. It not only helps reduce greenhouse emissions, but helps produce compost, which has a ton of positive benefits and properties that help us maintain healthy soils!

If you find you still have questions, please feel free to reach out to our Sustainability Coordinator, Laura Gale, at Laura would be happy to answer any questions you might have, as well as, come to your facility to train your staff. In addition, we have the poster above available to post in your facility, you can have as many as you like!

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