Food Scrap Recycling

Dubuque was the first city in Iowa to offer a curbside food scrap recycling program. The food scrap recycling program has helped our community:
  • Extend our landfill's life; 
  • Reduce pollution (especially methane - a powerful greenhouse gas); 
  • Maintain Dubuque county’s recycling rate above 25 percent; and,
  • Create a beneficial compost product for gardens, landscaping, erosion control, and watershed protection.

Acceptable Compostable Materials:
All food scraps (including meat and bones); coffee filters and tea bags; all food-soiled paper cups and paper plates; and, paper towels, placemats, napkins, and bags.

Unacceptable Materials:
Plastic bags, straws, utensils, lids, wrapping, and containers. Other: diapers, clothing, shoes, treated/painted wood, dead animals, animal waste/litter, cigarette butts, vacuum cleaner bags, hygiene products, medical and hazardous waste.

Still unclear what can be composted?  REThink Waste Dubuque is a free tool that features collection day reminders, collection calendars, and a waste wizard.  Just type in the material you'd disposing of and the app will tell you whether it can be recycled or composted or if it needs to be disposed of in your regular garbage.

Food Scrap

Cost for residential and K-12 school system during regular and winter collection

  • Tipper Cart Subscription: 13 gallon - $1
  • Tipper Cart Subscription: 48 gallon - $8 
  • Tipper Cart Subscription: 65 gallon - $11

Cost for commercial during regular and winter collection

  •  Tipper Cart Subscription: 13 gallon - $4
  •  Tipper Cart Subscription: 48 gallon - $15
  •  Tipper Cart Subscription: 65 gallon - $20

How am I to set out my food scraps?

City customers may put their food scraps and compostable paper in their yard waste carts, cans, and bags. Their current yard waste container options are subscribed 64-gallon carts, 35-gallon cans with annual yard waste decals, 35-gallon cans with attached yellow stickers, or paper yard waste bags with attached yellow stickers. As a result, many customers are able to divert their food scraps at little or no additional cost by simply adding them to their current under-filled, underweight yard waste containers.

Additional Suggestions

1) Don't buy more food than you'll use and donate extra, usable food to others in need.

2) Using your garbage disposal is also beneficial management of food scraps. Avoid putting meat, fat, and grease down your garbage disposal.