Food Scrap Collection and Compost Service - FoodCycle Program

Food scraps represent a significant portion of Tucson’s organic waste generation. The City of Tucson's FoodCycle Program is a full-service composting program operated by Environmental Services in partnership with the University of Arizona Compost Cats and the San Xavier Co-op Farm. ES and partners collect food scraps from area commercial restaurants and stores and turn it into mature compost that can be used by home gardeners, farms and landscapers.

Who is eligible to participate?

Any food store, restaurant or grocer within the Tucson City limits can sign up for the service.

How does the service work?

Program participants use one or more plastic containers, depending on the volume, to fill with the food scraps they generate. University of Arizona Compost Cats and ES staff can help participants determine how many food scrap containers they will need. ES empties the containers once or twice a week and takes the food scraps to the San Xavier Cooperative farm on the Tohono O’odham Nation where it is mixed with green waste and turned into compost. The compost is then sold at area farmers’ markets.

How much does service cost?

The fees for service depend on the number of containers needed by a business and the frequency of collection. ES Staff can help businesses determine the level of service needed.

How does a business establish service?

An ES account representative will schedule a meeting with the business manager or representative at the service location. We discuss the details of the service, needs of the business, identify where to place containers for service, sign a service agreement, and schedule a date for orientation.

The University of Arizona Compost Cats, who operate the disposal site, lead the orientation and training and answer all questions.

Join our growing group of grocery stores, restaurants, food service businesses and other commercial customers! Call (520) 791-3171 to speak with an ES representative about pickup and pricing.

What are the benefits?

Food scrap recycling and composting, SAVES:

  • Money by reducing your garbage volume and you may be able to downsize garbage service.
  • Water use and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Municipal landfill life by diverting organic materials from landfills.
  • The environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the use of chemicals and fertilizers. Food scraps buried in a landfill produce large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas, which is now thought to be 70 times more potent by volume than carbon dioxide. Soils rich in compost retain more water thereby reducing run-off and water pollution.

What is compost?

Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants. Mature compost contains humus and is dark brown or black with an earthy smell. Mixing organic wastes, such as yard trimmings, food wastes and manures, creates the organic material. The proper mix is important and ingredients such as wood chips or dry leaves are added to accelerate the breakdown. The rich, organic materials are the foundation to healthy, productive plants, flowers and vegetable gardens.

 What is acceptable to put in the food scrap carts?


1.   Vegetable and fruit peelings, trimmings, and waste (outside leaves of lettuce heads, etc).

2.   Pasta, Rice, Noodles and Grains - Pasta salads are acceptable with limited meat ingredients

3.   Coffee grounds, Filters, Tea bags

4.   Breads, Cakes, Pies, Tortillas

5.   Flowers and plants (no wrappings)

6.   Egg shells.


1. Meat or dairy

2.  Plastic bags, eating utensils, wrappers

3.  Wax coatings