What is Composting?

Composting is a practical and convenient way to handle organic wastes.   Yard wastes and food waste can be composted and turned into a dark, crumbly, earth-smelling material that can be used in gardens, on lawns and around trees and shrubs.   Composting is also a great way to divert waste from incinerators and increase recycling.   The City is working in several different ways to increase composting efforts.  

Backyard Composting 101  - Russell Library presentation on April 5, 2022.  Learn how to compost, why it is important, the different types of bins that are available, how it works, and how to do it easily with little little fuss.  Presentation by Middletown Recycling Coordinator and UConn Master Composter '21, Kim O'Rourke.  

Watch a short Recreation Recycles video on backyard composting here. 

2021ICAWposter-winnerInternational Composting Awareness Week - May 1 - 7, 2022

Welcome to ICAW! Find out more information on Composting in Middletown here and watch our Facebook page for composting tips throughout the week! 

Backyard Composting 

It is easy and fun to compost at home with a backyard composting bin.   The City occasionally holds community compost bin sales and workshops in the spring and fall.    You can compost with or without a bin.  By adding carbon materials (such as leaves, sawdust, woodchips) with nitrogen-rich materials (food waste, grass clipping) you can end up with a nutrient rich, soil like material for your gardens.  Middletown City Hall manages a backyard composting bin for City Hall.   If you want to see it contact the City Recycling Coordinator or find more information on Home Composting can be found here.  

What Can I Compost?   

Here's a list of 104 items you can put in your backyard compost bin. You want to make sure you add enough carbon rich (brown) material with the nitrogen rich (green) material. Usually  3 parts brown to 1 part green is a good ratio.  If you have too much green material it just become a stinky mess. Your bin also needs oxygen and moisture. Mix it occasionally with a pitch fork or aerator  and make sure it isn't too wet, or too dry.  It should be the consistency of a wrung out sponge.

Please note that our Recycling Center drop off and commercial food waste collections accept more types of food waste than what is recommended for your backyard bin.  We recommend never to put meat, dairy or greasy items in your backyard bin.  Also, note that bones, cobs, and shells will take a lot longer to compost in a backyard bin.     

Food Scrap Drop offs 

Can't compost at home?  No problem! Food Scraps can be brought to one of our food scrap drop off locations at no charge. Please note, that the food scrap drop offs can take items such as meat, bones, shellfish and dairy products that you should not put in your backyard compost bin.  Absolutely NO plastic bags.  ONLY BPI certified compostable bags are acceptable. 

 Drop offs are located at: 

  • The Middletown Recycling Center, Monday - Friday 7am - 2:45 pm or first and third Saturday of the month, 7am - 11:45am, April - June & Sept - Nov, it is open every Saturday.  
  • Emergency Management Garage, 675 Randolph Road. 
  • Middletown Farmers Market, June - October.

The Food Scraps will be taken to the anaerobic digester in Southington and turned into clean energy and a soil amendment.  

More information on this program, can be found here.  

Curbside Collection of Compost 

With the recent development of composting and organic digesting infrastructure in the state, more services are becoming available to have your food waste collected for composting.   In Middletown Blue Earth Compost is a private company that provides this service, for a cost,  if you don’t want to or can’t compost it in your backyard.     

Commercial Composting 

Many of our larger businesses (and some small!)  have started separating organic waste for composting and anaerobic digestion.   This makes such a big difference.   The more we can divert from the typical waste stream, the better for us and our environment.   When you visit an establishment, ask what they do with their waste and if they have considered composting or anaerobic digestion. Check out our Feed The Earth page to learn about our restaurant food scrap collection program.    If they need information, they can contact the City Recycling Coordinator.  

City’s efforts

Besides managing a compost bin at City Hall, the City has collected organics at the Open Air Market at the Wadsworth Mansion.  Volunteer Recycling Educators have staffed the trash and recycling stations to help participants separate their waste properly.  Recycling and Composting efforts at this event have reduced the trash generated significantly.  Recycling Commission volunteers also brought in a water station, where shoppers could get a drink of water with a reusable water bottle or small recyclable cup instead of purchasing bottled water.   

The City has initiated food scrap diversion at many restaurants and public schools in the Sanitation District.    Our Feed the Earth Program has collected over 100,000 lbs of food scraps and with the help of Blue Earth Compost and Quantum Biopower, have turned those scraps into clean energy and compost.  Read more about our collaboration with Middletown Public Schools here.   (scroll down the page).  

The City has collected and composted leaves for decades.  Currently leaves go to a local farm where they are composted in windrows.  In the spring, the City makes available compost material from the city’s leaves.   Watch the Public Works Facebook Page  or sign up for Recycling Communications for information about when the compost is available.  

Brush and Christmas trees are also collected to be chipped.  Woodchips are available at the Recycling Center at no charge. Large dump truck loads can be delivered to Middletown residents for use on their property.   Please note, these woodchips are not uniform in size, nor are they treated in any way. The City does not recommend using them near any building or on any play area.   A waiver form  must be signed and notarized to allow the City to deliver the woodchips onto your property.  

EarthmachineComposting and Rain Barrel Sale 

The Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments and the  City of Middletown work together to offer community  compost bin and rain barrel sales in the spring and the fall. Our Spring 22 Community Sale is happening now!  Compost Bins and Rain Barrels can be ordered on line at:  Orders must be placed by April 22, 2022 and picked up in Middletown or Old Saybrook on Sunday, April 24.   

Need more information on how to compost with an Earth Machine?   Check out this helpful information from the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory.  

Want to learn more? Join the Middletown Recycling Coordinator, Kim O'Rourke,  for a virtual workshop on backyard composting on Tuesday, April 5 at 6:00 p.m.   Kim is also a UConn Master Composter and will offer tips on how to compost and answer all your composting questions!  The workshop is free, but participants must register at  Questions on the workshop should be forwarded to: 

compostBackyard Composting 101 Workshop - Archived Workshop! 

Learn about Backyard Composting  with UConn Master Composters, Danielle Butsch and Ruth Eckhoff.  This was recorded March 2021.  Have questions after watching? Contact the Middletown Recycling Coordinator for answers!