General Questions


Why should I compost?

The average American person throws away 30 pounds of garbage a week. Of that, at least 20% is organic waste that could be composted.

What’s more, when the organic materials find their way into a landfill and attempt to break down naturally, they cannot.  Instead they release methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas approximately 20 times more powerful that carbon dioxide.

By composting and re-directing, that organic material is breaking down naturally and can be applied back onto land, helping enhance soil quality, prevent erosion and increase water retention.

Where exactly do you operate?

Today, we provide pick-up service to the following towns: Bala Cynwyd, Wynnewood, Penn Wynne, Narberth, Ardmore, Havertown, Haverford, Villanova, Gladwyne, St. David’s, Wayne, Devon, and Newtown Square, & West Chester Borough.

Zip Codes: 19003, 19004, 19008, 19010, 19026, 19035, 19041, 19066, 19072, 19073, 19082, 19083, 19085, 19087, 19096, 19312, 19333, 19380, 19382

Live in Tredyffrin Township? We hope to expand to the full township in 2024! Click the sign-up button on our website to join the Tredyffrin waitlist!

Not seeing your town listed? Join our waiting list. We are adding new towns as demand increases.

Where do you service in the West Chester area?

We operate within the West Chester Borough & parts of West Goshen, Westtown, and Willistown. Click here for a map of the full service area.

Where does it go?

Mother Compost has partnered with the folks over at Kitchen Harvest & Linvilla Orchards. All compostables will be taken to their on-farm composting operation where they monitor, turn and test the materials as they undergo the natural process of becoming compost.

How often will you come?

As of today, we offer pick up’s on an every other week basis.

Can I sign-up if I live in an apartment building/complex?

If you live within our service area- yes!

Once you sign-up, a team member will reach out to you to discuss where is best to leave the bucket. We know that there can be rules as to where you can/cannot leave your bucket, so any location details you can give us is appreciated as we work together to find a location that is convenient for you and our drivers.

I really want to try this but I’m not sure it will work for my life/family/dog/cat.

You can test out our services with our free month trail! During the trial you will not be charged, and will experience two collections to see if our service is right for you.

Additionally, you can  sign up for a monthly subscription and cancel at any time.

Do you have a referral program?

Yes! Our program Give $10, Get $10 allows you to send your personalized link to neighbors and friends. Once they sign up, you both get $10 credited to your MC account. Access your link through your customer portal!

Are you doing any commercial businesses?

Yes, we are partnering with local businesses within our service area of the Main Line. If you are interested in getting your business composting, fill out our commercial questionnaire here or contact us at to set up a free 15 minute consultation.

Wait, you sell more stuff besides compost?

Yes, our shop is visible from your customer portal and we sell garden gloves, long sleeve adults shirts, short sleeve kids T shirts, compostable bin liners, gift cards, and our gift & grow package.

If you are interested in purchasing a gift certificate of any amount, you can do so under the services tab on our website.

If you are not a subscriber and interested in our shop items head to the Shop button at the top of our website. All non subscribers will have an additional $10 delivery fee, and customers should purchase through the Shop in their portal to avoid these fees.

We are often asked about selling additional merchandise & have agreed not to make key chains, baseball hats, etc because we want to stick with our zero waste mission as much as possible. We did not want to create more products as we know – we already have plenty of hats, key chains, water bottles, etc. In the vein of Zero Waste and the 3 R’s, we encourage our employees and communities to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle their products instead of creating and purchasing new ones.

Service Questions


Okay, I signed-up. What's next?

A bucket will be delivered to the address you provided within a few business days, and you will be given a collection day.

Pick-ups are currently scheduled for every other week, and you can find always see your service dates in the calendar on your customer portal.

You will receive a reminder via e-mail & SMS the day before each pick up. Place your bucket out by the curb by 9pm the night before your collection, our drivers will service your bucket before 5pm on the day of your collection.

We leave you a clean bucket and the cycle repeats!

Will I get compost back?

Each subscriber is able to register for a free share of compost each winter. Free shares are distributed in the spring.

Givebacks for the 2024 season have ended.  All new customers must be signed up by 1/31/25 to be eligible for 2025 compost givebacks.

You can still get compost: Purchase additional compost as needed through the Shop in your customer portal!

    • One bag of compost allows for a half inch layer on a 3 x 3 plot
    • $10.50 + tax per bag, subscribers get free delivery!
    • Compost orders over 30 bags are considered bulk orders which should be ordered directly from our partners at Linvilla Orchards
      • Call 610-876-7116 and mention that you compost with MC- it entitles you to a 20% discount on bulk compost orders.
      • Bulk orders are a minimum of 1 yard
      • Linvilla delivers compost at cost determined by mileage

Wait, do I put this bucket in my kitchen?

Most people put their bucket with their other trash bins and leave a countertop compost bin either on their counter or under their sink. Every day or so, just empty that into your bucket.

I filled my bucket and I’m still a week out. What do I do?

Subscription costs cover collections based on the bucket volume with the option to put out up to five pizza boxes per collection. We know that overflow can happen & our Bag to Earth bags are your solution! Sold in our shop, these are compostable brown bags designed for food waste as they have a compostable film on the inside to help avoid leaks. 

These bags are clearly labeled and our drivers are instructed to take up to 3 along with your bucket contents during normal collection. If you are putting out 4 or more bags, please contact our customer service team ahead of collection. If you have extra materials one week but do not have these bags on hand, please contact our team ahead of time so we can note it and charge as needed. 

If our drivers note extra materials during collection that are not in the Bag to Earth Bags and have not been previously noted, our drivers may or may not be able to take materials based on truck capacity. If the drivers are able to take materials customers will automatically be charged an $10 extra materials fee. 

If you have a special week, like you hosted a major holiday or event, let us know ahead of time and we can drop you an extra container or two that we will take back during your next collection.

If you are consistently composting more every week, good for you! We offer additional buckets as needed, up to a max of 5 per household.

I missed my pickup - what should I do?

If you missed your collection, contact us via phone, email or the customer portal with whichever solution you prefer:

  • Bring your bucket to an MC drop spot, free for all subscribers. Contact our customer service for more information on when/how you can drop materials.
  • We can drop you an additional container to hold you over till your next service date for a $10 fee. Container will be removed at your next scheduled collection. Containers delivered on Monday or Friday.
  • If you need materials removed sooner, we can collect materials on an upcoming delivery route for a $15 fee. Please submit requests ASAP. Delivery routes are Monday or Friday.

Please reach out to us as soon as possible after your missed collection and let us know which solution works best for you.

When do I put my bucket out? Where do I put it?

We ask that you put your buckets out for service the night before your collection day. Our drivers operate as early as 4am to as late as 5pm, depending on the day. Having your bins out the night before ensures your bins will be serviced no matter what time our driver comes by.

We ask that you place your bins in a location that is visible from the road, and as close to the curb as possible. This ensures that our drivers can efficiently spot and service your bin swiftly and thoroughly. If your service day is the same as your trash and recycling day, please place your compost bins separate from trash and recycling bins to avoid it being mistaken for trash.

What time will my bucket be serviced?

Your individual service schedule will fluctuate as our routes continue to grow and add new subscribers. New members from week to week can change the layout of our routes dramatically, making your stop first one week and last the next.  We know this can be confusing, and have a feature to send you an email notification as soon as your bucket has been serviced so that you don’t have to wonder if we have come yet. If you would like to add this feature, head to service notifications in your customer portal or send us an email. 

Additionally, our drivers are out from 4am – 5pm on collection days. If your bucket has not been serviced between those hours do not worry, we are still on the way! If it is after 5pm, please contact us as perhaps we missed you ( we make mistakes too!) 

Help- squirrels and other animals are attacking my bucket!

Here are a few tips for deterring neighborhood critters from your bins:

  • Keeping your bin stored inside until the night before collection
  • Keep the outside of your bin clean from any food/oils that may attract rodents
  • Purchase Grannick’s bitter apple spray, this is used on pets, and works on outside critters too! Just spray the buckets when you put them outside. This can be found at any pet store.
  • After collection, line the bottom of your bucket with some old paper, like newspaper, or brown paper bags, etc. This should help to absorb any attractive smells
  • Move your bins to a new location, a small move can confuse animals who were coming back on a regular basis
  • Place your bin inside a larger metal or plastic trash container- please let our team know if you plan to do this so we can alert our drivers.

We understand that animal damage is out of your (and our) control but we encourage you to act on one of the tips from above to help avoid further damage as our replacement policy now charges for bucket and lid replacements. 

I have more than can fit in my bucket, what should I do?

Reach out and let us know! You have options

  1. Consider moving up one more bucket – we want to take everything you have!
  2. Purchase the Bag to Earth Bags from our shop- a lined brown bag that is compost approved! If you place these bags out with your bucket during normal collection our drivers will take up to 5 extra per collection.
  3. If you don’t have the Bag to Earth Bags handy call or email us to let us know ahead of time so we can alert our drivers and charge a collection fee as needed.

Materials outside of your buckets that are not in the Bag to Earth Bags or that have not been noted ahead of time will not be collected.

What do I do if there is roadwork affecting access to my home?

Please notify us right away so we can alert our drivers and work out a solution that works for both of us.

What is the Screw Top Lid option?

Screw Tops are a more durable lid. While they require more of an investment, they are designed to last longer in hopes to limit the amount of EZ peel replacement lids needed.

$15 includes installation & delivery. For more details regarding these lids click here.

What are your bucket & lid fees?

We made the decision to add per container and lid charges so that we can continue to operate our service without changing our subscription costs. We ask our members to share this cost with us. Our team will continue to proactively ensure containers are clean and secure for our subscribers.

  • New subscribers pay a one time non-refundable $15 new bucket fee per container, charged after your free trial month. When adding buckets to your subscription this fee will apply. Bucket fee is subject to change with market prices.
  • All customers are entitled to one free lid replacement, after that lid replacements can be purchased through the shop for $2.75.
  • Bucket replacements are $9.50 per bin. 

How Do I communicate with the MC Team?

There are various ways in which you can communicate with our team. Email us at or give us a call at 610-509-9700.

You can also use your portal to send us a direct message, report a missed pick up, or even reach out via the customer support form.

What Can I Compost?


What can I put in the bucket?

You Can Compost:


Coffee Grounds/Filters

Cooked/Fried Food


Egg Shells

Freezer-burned Foods

Fruits & Vegetables: peels/pits/seeds Grains: Pasta/bread/rice Seeds/Nuts/Nut shells

Processed Food

Powdered Milk

Pizza  & Pizza Boxes- Up to 5 boxes per collection

Rotten/Moldy Food


Compost ONLY IF it fits in your bin

BPI-Certified Compostable Ware. With the exception of corn based compostable utensils, only wooden utensils accepted at this time.

Hair Clippings- Human or Animal

Nail Clippings

Pencil Shavings


Wool/Dryer Lint

Fireplace Ashes

Garden/Yard Trimmings

Houseplant Trimmings



We do not accept:







Inorganic Materials

Plastic, Acrylic, Polyester, Rubber

Rubber Bands

Twist Ties

Animal or Human Waste Chemicals/Toxics

Cigarette Butts

Coal – Treated


Diseased Plants


Kitty Litter

Medicine/Medical Waste

Treated Woods

Used Tissues (due to COVID)


These Items May Be Compostable:



If loose → compost

Natural bag w/ NO staple  compost

Natural bag w/ staple → remove staple & compost

Unnatural bag → trash


Cardboard/Paper/Paper Products

If waxy → recycle or trash

If non waxy and greasy/covered in food → compost

If Clean → recycle


If natural → compost

If synthetic/wax coated→ trash

*We are not collecting up large amounts of yard waste, but will take seasonal items (pumpkins, cornstalks, pine boughs) as needed.

For a print out PDF of this list click here

Looking for compostable ware? Here is a list of our recommendations

My favorite local eatery says their take out containers are compostable, are they?

General rule of thumb

  • If it’s labeled compostable & made from cardboard or starch-like material, it’s good to go
  • If looks like plastic but labeled BPI Certified Compostable – we accept it
  • Any type of plastic looking cutlery, BPI certified compostable or not – we CANNOT accept – these materials are not breaking down quickly enough at our site

Local Establishments:

Whole Foods: All items are SSI certified and are good to compost

HipCityVeg: All items are BPI Certified, and are good to compost

Coco Thai Bistro: All items are certified compostable and are good to compost. *The wooden cutlery they use is accepted in our piles

MOM’s Organic Market: Certified cardboard & plastic-looking material are good to compost! Cutlery unfortunately is not. 

Sweetgreen: Bowls are certified compostable and are good to compost. Cutlery unfortunately is not.

PokeOno: Bowls are certified compostable and good to compost. Cutlery unfortunately is not.

Honeygrow: If the item is labeled compostable on the bottom of the container, it is acceptable. If you do not see the compostable label, it is not compostable. Cutlery unfortunately is not.

Blue Pearl Cafe: Both cardboard & plastic labelled Greenware are BPI certified compostable and good to compost. Cutlery unfortunately is not. 

Do you have a favorite place that is not listed? Let us know at

We are so glad to see how many local businesses this community supports! 

Do you take compostable to-go ware?

Currently, we do accept certain compostable ware. Please look for the BPI Compostable Certification logo on the label. This certification tells us that our pile can break it down without any issues. Certified according to the US Standard ASTM D6400. Click here for our local, online, and bulk compostable ware recommendations. 

bpi compostable

Items listed below with the BPI certification still cannot be accepted at this time: 

  • Compostable “plastic” utensils. They are not breaking down in the piles. Wood utensils are acceptable.  
  • Compostable wipes.

**In the name of wasting less, we continue to urge everyone to utilize reusable items whenever possible. Click here for a flyer with our recommendations on products that can be swapped for single use items. Trying just one can be a game changer!

I found this new product, labeled biodegradeable or compostable, can it go in the bucket?

Please look for the BPI Compostable Certification or the US Standard ASTM D6400 Certification.  This certification tells us that our pile can break it down without any issues.

If you do not see one of these certifications, please reach out to our team for clarification & do not put it in our buckets. General rule of thumb is that everything compostable is biodegradable, but not everything biodegradable is compostable. 

bpi compostable

Items listed below with the BPI certification still cannot be accepted at this time: 

  • Compostable “plastic” utensils. They are not breaking down in the piles. Wood utensils are acceptable.  
  • Compostable wipes.

**In the name of wasting less, we continue to urge everyone to utilize reusable items whenever possible. Click here for a flyer with our recommendations on products that can be swapped for single use items. Trying just one can be a game changer!

Can I compost liquids?

While liquids like expired juice and milk are compostable, we ask that whenever possible, please avoid dumping liquids straight into the bucket, as it makes the buckets heavier. Typically old juices/milk/ and other liquids are okay to dump in the kitchen sink.

Can I compost my pizza box?

While you can rip your box up and put the pieces in your bucket, you can also just simply put your pizza boxes underneath your bucket, or in between your buckets if you have multiples.

You just want to make sure it is weighed down or secure so it does not fly away. Pro tip for extra MC brownie points – flatten your boxes if you can!

Using Your MC Customer Portal


How can I skip collections?

Head to the Service Calendar in your Customer Portal ( Service & Support > Service Calendar) from there it will show you your upcoming collections on a calendar and you can click onto the date and skip that week’s collection for a $5 credit.

Skips must be submitted via customer portal or by reply text to our SMS reminders by midnight the night before collection to ensure our system processed the request properly.

How do I log in to my Customer Portal?

You can log in by clicking on the “login’ button at the top of our website. If you need password reset, reach out to and we will send you a temporary password.

Where can I view my account details?

You guessed it, in your portal! You can view your upcoming service day, your current subscription, your payment methods, and next bill date and full billing history.

How do I access my referral link?

Head into your portal and click the ‘Give $5, Get $5’ tab. From there you can directly copy your link and share it. Additionally, referral links are provided in your initial welcome email.

Still can’t find it? Email and we can send it to you!

I didn't receive my SMS reminder?

Some customers have not been receiving the SMS reminders & we are actively troubleshooting this with our text provider, but often times the issue is at the carrier level and cannot be solved by our team.

We will continue to do everything we can to ensure the reminders are not blocked or rejected, but we are somewhat limited from a solution standpoint.

To avoid any collection confusion during this time, we wanted to share other options and tips for not missing your MC collection day:

  • Utilize the Service Calendar in your portal– this will display your upcoming collection dates
    • Access the calendar under the Service & Support tab and then click Service Calendar
  • Sign up for our email reminders 
    • Check if you are enrolled in email reminders by using the Account & Billing tab, then click Update Account Details. Ensure send email reminders is checked on.
  • Set recurring reminders on your phone
    • Be sure the alert comes the night before collection to avoid a missed collection during early morning collections.


Composting in Bala Cynwyd, Wynnewood, Penn Wynne, Narberth, Ardmore,
Havertown, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Villanova, St. David’s, West Chester, Wayne and Devon.

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