backyard composting program

Composting is the managed and faster natural breakdown (decomposition) process of select organic waste you can do at home to reduce waste. Microorganisms break down select materials into compost with the presence of carbon, nitrogen, air, and water.

Composting Pie Chart



What to Compost?

While many products are labeled as 'compostable', they may not be suitable for this composting process and will not break down. Only place the listed materials in your bin for backyard composting.


(Carbon Rich - Energy Source)
(Nitrogen Rich - Protein Source)
Dry leaves, straw, hayVegetable scraps
Paper coffee filtersFruit peels/rings (minimal citrus)
Shrub pruningCoffee grounds
Pine needles/conesTea grounds/leaves
Chopped twigs/branchesSoft pruning
Wood ashHouse plants
Shredded newspaperSpent flowers
Shredded uncoated paper and cardboardHair
Egg cartons (cardboard)Feathers
Sawdust (untreated wood)Fur
Brown paper bags (shredded)Nut shells (except walnuts)
Crushed egg shellsWeeds without mature seeds (non-invasive)
Paper towel and toilet paper rollsManure (herbivore waste)
Gerbil, hamster, guinea pig, and rabbit beddingHops

Items to Avoid

Meat or bones Weeds with mature seeds Diseased or insect-ridden plants
Eggs Treated or painted wood Grass clippings
Dairy products Particle board Used kitty litter
Grease, fat, oil, lard Plants treated with pesticides Grass clippings
Glossy/coated paper Coal or charcoal ash Metal, glass, plastic

Backyard Composting Program

You can begin composting at home on your own or if you live within the Solid Waste service area*, you’re eligible to receive a free backyard bin to participate in the Backyard Composting Program**. (An education partnership with the Water Department and UF/IFAS Extension office)

This program provides free backyard composting bins for single-family homes. Being a part of the solid waste process, individuals will get the chance to learn and start composting as they recycle their organic waste. This program is only available to City of Tampa residents serviced by the Department of Solid Waste & Environmental Program Management, which does not include New Tampa.

*Please verify that you live within the service area before registering for the program workshop using the link below. If your service says "trash pick-up outside Tampa," you are not eligible.

My Tampa Services

**To register for a mandatory virtual composting workshop and receive a free backyard composting bin please visit:


All classes are now full - thank you to all those who signed up!

If you didn't get a chance to register, more classes will be available early 2021.

We will share those dates when they become available on our website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Nextdoor Platforms

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IFAS Extension by the University of Florida