Compost and Food Waste

What is compost?

Compost is a nutrient-rich soil that is created from food and yard waste, otherwise known as organic material, breaking down. The organic material breaks down through an aerobic process, meaning oxygen is involved, creating the dense, very rich and earthy-smelling soil we all know as compost. 

Why compost?

It is estimated that about 25% of our entire waste stream, meaning those items picked up and brought to the landfill are actually food waste. When the food waste gets there, it breaks down, releasing greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases, like methane and carbon dioxide, stick in our atmosphere and catch heat from the sun. More specifically, though, food waste usually causes methane while breaking down and methane is much more potent that carbon dioxide. So, leaving food waste out of the landfill and turning it into compost actually combats climate change! Afterwards, the compost can be used for indoor or outdoor plants and is a wonderful vitamin-rich option that helps rejuvenate old soils. 

How do I compost in Bowie?

Currently, you have three options:

  1. Utilize our drop off site
  2. Compost in your backyard using a backyard bin
  3. Participate, if able, in our curbside food waste program

Drop Off Site

The drop off site at the Kenhill Center, 2614 Kenhill Drive, is brand new as of December 2023. This site creates an opportunity for residents who do not wish to or are not able to compost on their own property to participate in having their food waste eliminated from the waste stream. ONLY food waste - no yard waste - and almost all food waste items are allowed. For example, meat, bones, eggshells, and tea bags are all great for this program. The contractor, Compost Crew, takes the food waste to the Prince George's County Organics Facility, which uses state of the art technology to easily and efficiently break down the food and organic material. The Prince George's County Department of the Environment has more information on acceptable items at this facility, including which compostable bags to use (optional) and "how to" videos. In the end, the compost at this facility is sold as Leafgro GOLD®. 

Follow these tips to successfully use this service:

  • Bring food scraps, including rinds, peels, cores, etc.
  • Bring leftover foods, including meats, bones, eggshells, and dairy items
  • Bring tea bags, coffee filters, old napkins and compostable-grade products
  • Bring the items and empty them into the container with no bag
  • If you prefer using a bag, make sure it either HOME or COMMERCIALLY compostable
  • When in doubt, leave it out so as not to contaminate the entire load
  • Please no yard waste, flowers, household plants, etc.
  • One tip: leave food scraps in a bowl or baggie in your refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to drop them off to avoid smells and messes
  • Contact the Sustainability Manager, Ashleigh Diaz, with questions

An image describing our food waste drop off site, what's acceptable and what is not.

Backyard Composting

Backyard composting is the process of creating your own compost for use on your property (indoor and outdoor plants love this soil!). The City has large outdoor compost bins for sale to City residents for $20 each. Please head to this page for more information.

Curbside Food Waste Program

If you are a resident in the Idlewild, Victoria Heights, Yorktown, Overbrook, Saddlebrook, Saddlebrook West, or Belair Town II neighborhoods, you are eligible for our curbside pickup program. This is where you are given a bin to collect food waste (must be in compostable bag) and have it picked on Wednesday mornings by Public Works staff who take it to the County's Organics Facility.