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Dear EcoNews,

I moved to Humboldt County from a large West Coast city. I had been used to composting my food waste and have been dismayed by my inability to do so in Humboldt. I hate to send organic material to the landfill to be turned into methane. What gives?


Confused Composter


Dear Confused Composter,

There are many facilities, services, events, conveniences, etc. that we do not have in Humboldt County that are common in metropolitan or wealthy areas. Adapting to rural conditions requires that residents become more resourceful, rely on each other, and join forces to achieve economy-of-scale solutions for a variety of services not provided by local government. Food waste and other organic material is often handled differently in rural areas than in large cities. Many residents have their own backyard composting or make their own arrangements to drop off their food waste to a farmer with farm animals, according to the farmer’s specifications. Recology and Humboldt Sanitation are the contracted collectors of discarded materials for local governments in Humboldt County, and depending on where you live, Recology can provide a cart to collect your green waste/yard debris for a fee. Depending on where you live, The Local Worm Guy provides a collection service for food waste composting. See

Humboldt County is not served by a centralized composting or food waste digestion facility. To achieve this will require cooperation among local governments combined with private and public resources for financing. Local governments have been slow to respond to new State laws to keep food waste and other organics out of the landfill. 

Zero Waste Humboldt, the NEC, EPIC, 350 Humboldt, and other environmental and climate change advocacy groups have started to meet to explore the range of options for joint solutions for organic waste recycling. We urge you to communicate with your local elected leaders if you want composting to have greater priority in local government or tell Humboldt Waste Management Authority at

See the ZWH article of this issue of EcoNews, or Get On Board for the Climate, for current information about California SB1383 which requires edible food rescue and food waste composting.

— Maggie Gainer

Zero Waste Humboldt