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Compost Program

Chemung County is selling compost bins for you to get started composting in your backyard.

Click here for A Guide to Backyard Composting.

Bins for sale – available at Chemung County Soil and Water Conservation District office
Earth Machine Plastic Compost Bin - $50.00
Welded Wire Compost Bin - $15.00

plastic bin     wiremesh bin

Chemung County SWCD
851 Chemung Street, Horseheads NY   


What is compost?
Compost simply means controlled decomposition. For homeowners, it means putting all your organic waste (leaves, garden waste, food waste, etc) together and decomposing it in a controlled environment. The result is compost, a nutrient-rich garden amendment. 

Why Compost?

• It’s a responsible convenient way to get rid of your organic waste
• It results in a nutrient-rich substance that will help your flowers, vegetables, and potted plants thrive
• It prevents stormwater runoff pollution. For more information on the effects of stormwater runoff, click here.

How does organic waste and composting affect stormwater and water quality?
When organic waste is improperly handled, it can damage the natural environment and harm the municipal water supply. Composting is a good way to prevent mismanagement of waste. The following are two examples of organic waste management that impact water and the environment.

Example 1: Dumping organic waste into a body of water such as a river, stream, or creek. 
The nutrients from the organic waste enter the water, changing its nutrient content. This allows plants and algae to grow in the water. The excess organic waste lowers the level of oxygen in the water, a process called eutrophication. The water becomes polluted, unhealthy, and difficult to purify for drinking. 

Example 2: Leaving organic waste on the curb or other paved surface for an extended period of time. 
When it rains, the water runs past the organic waste on the pavement and picks up nutrients from the waste. This changes the nutrient content of the water before it enters into the sewer system.  The water becomes polluted, unhealthy, and difficult to purify for drinking. 

For more information on organic waste management, click here.

What is organic waste? 
Organic waste is waste that comes from a plant or animal source and can be decomposed by living organisms. Here are some types of organic waste that you may deal with:
• Leaves                      • Grass Clippings
• Yard Waste                • Food Waste
• Manure                      • Christmas Trees
• Garden Waste             • Brush
Can I compost all organic waste?
You can compost almost all of these, with the exception of big branches, brush, and Christmas trees. Click here for a complete list of what you can and cannot compost. 

What kind of bin can I have?
There are numerous types of compost bins; plastic bins, tumbler bins, open pallet bins and wire mesh. Other options can be easily researched on the internet.

For further resources, click on the following two links:
Compost Resource Sheet Page 1
Compost Resource Sheet Page 2

What are my other options for dealing with organic waste besides composting?

1) Municipal organic waste pick-up
Some municipalities provide organic waste pick-up a few weeks each year. Do your research to find out what weeks of the year your municipality picks up organics. Be careful not to leave organics out at times when there is no pick-up, as nutrient runoff from leaves or brush can harm water sources.

2) Independent contractor
Some companies will contract with residents to dispose of their organic waste. Check with your municipality for a list of commonly used contractors. 

3) Drop-off at a municipal site
Some municipalities provide a drop-off site for organic waste. Some also leave the finished compost, wood chips, or mulch out for residents to take home. Other nearby municipalities may accept organic waste from residents in your municipality. 


Environmental Protection Agency Information on Organic Waste:

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Home Composting Info:

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chemung County:
Phone: 607-734-4453 for composting questions