Basic Stats

Want to know how we do it at our schools?


In the very beginning of our compost program (late 2015), we asked school PTA/PTOs, New England Grassroots Environment Fund, and a local charity (Lexington Education Fund) to fund a pilot program in three schools. They were all extremely supportive and responsive. And most importantly, wrote us checks.

After the first few months, our public schools Superintendent said, we’ll put it in next year’s school budget! So the compost pickup program has been funded by LPS since the fall of 2016.

Key to Success:

  • Talk to all stakeholders: superintendent, school principals, custodians, students, parents, and teachers.
  • Start small, perhaps from one day a week, and slowly build up the community of student and parent volunteers.
  • We rely on student and parent volunteers. We certainly recommend ordering grabbers like this one to pick out any contaminations/mistakes. Gloves help too, especially if there is not a sink nearby to wash hands.

In the Cafeteria & Kitchen:

Before lunch, we bring in clean/lined toter(s) inside the cafeteria for students to throw in food waste directly (occasionally the toter may have some scraps from the kitchen in the bottom, which is fine).

Some kitchens use 5-gallon buckets to transport food scraps and dump in the toters.

Our lunch trays are compostable, though not all students use them, they take up space in the compost toters. So we stack them first before throwing in with the food waste (except at the high school where it is too crowded to manage the stacking).

Logistics of Compost Pickup Service:

If you want to calculate the cost and how many toters you need, our experience has been (this includes kitchen scraps from food preparation):

  • 400~500-student elementary schools fill one toter per day.
  • ~900-student middle schools fill two to three toters per day.
  • 2,400 student high school (we only compost on Fridays so far) fill 6 toters per day.

Black Earth Compost picks up:

  • once a week for 6 elementary schools
  • three times a week for two middle schools
  • twice a week for high school

Black Earth Compost has been very flexible and responsive in pick up scheduling as they pick up compost from paying residents in Lexington and Arlington as well. We have been extremely satisfied with their service.

Next Steps:

  • We are hoping to expand to more days at the high school.
  • We are advocating for newer schools to install dishwashers and use reusable food ware!