New DC Act Incentivizes Residential Composting in DC

Have you heard? On May 1, the Washington, D.C. City Council unanimously approved an act that gives residents rebates for setting up home composting systems.

The Residential Composting Incentives Amendment Act of 2017 establishes a rebate of up to $75 for District residents who purchase and install a home composting or vermicomposting (worm) system.   

DC has a goal of diverting 80 percent of its waste from landfill or incineration by 2032. Currently, DC’s waste diversion rate is only about 21 percent. This bill will promote residential composting while helping to divert food waste from D.C.’s waste stream.

The composting program will be implemented through D.C.’s Department of Public Works (DPW).  Over the coming months, DPW staff will pilot various compost bin models to identify those that are best suited to D.C.’s urban environment, with an eye towards rat resistance. While the details of the rebate program have yet to be determined, participation in a brief compost training will be mandatory to ensure compliance with the District’s rat abatement program.  

Meanwhile, the District is exploring creative ways to reduce food and other waste streams.  DC’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) began operating critter proof/smell proof community food and garden waste composting bins in 2015. Take a one-hour training and you’ll be able to drop off your food waste at one of these 50 sites around town.  Currently, more than 1000 residents are participating in this program and composting some 12 tons of food and organic waste every month. To learn more, see

And, in 2017, city-sponsored Food Waste Drop-Off sites were established in each Ward near weekend farmers’ markets.  The program surpassed expectations with almost 100,000 lbs of food waste collected during the program’s first eight months.  DPW has committed to expanding the program in addition to implementing the residential compost rebate program. See for a list of drop off sites, schedule, and acceptable items.

D.C. still has a long way to go to get to that 80 percent waste diversion goal, and they’re looking for creative mechanisms to get there.


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