How to Compost

Oneida and Herkimer County residents have worked hard to make recycling a reality. The Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority urges everyone to compost. Composting organic materials is just as important as glass, plastic, metal and paper recycling. All of these efforts help reduce our reliance on landfills.

Composting can be done easily at home - many residents already have backyard compost piles or units where they compost yard waste and some household waste. The Authority also operates a large scale green waste composting facility that produces high-quality, finished compost.

A basic understanding of the composting process can produce a high-quality, usable product; all it takes are a few simple materials and a little time.

Utica and Rome EcoDrop - Oneida and Herkimer County Residents may deliver green waste at our Utica and Rome EcoDrop facilities. Residents can also purchase finished, nutrient rich compost made from yard waste at our Green Waste Composting Facility. 

Click here for EcoDrop hours and locations.

Compost Formula


Compostable Waste

  • Waste material can be either yard waste and/or certain household waste.
  • An ideal size for the pile is 3' x 3' x 3'.
  • Large pieces of waste material should be broken up by hand or shredded.
  • Check COMPOST INGREDIENTS list before adding waste materials.


Turning the pile (moving the materials from the sides into the middle and from the bottom to the top) will allow oxygen to reach the organisms which break down the material.


  • The pile should be moist, like a wrung-out sponge. Dry or wet piles will slow down the decomposition process.
  • Check compost moisture by squeezing a handful. A few drops should come out.
  • Adjust moisture by adding water to a dry pile or adding dry material to a wet pile.


  • For optimum composting, the compost temperature should be 90° to 140°.
  • Consider checking the center of the pile periodically using a thermometer with a probe.

C:N Ratio

  • The pile needs a good balance of carbon and nitrogen materials to decompose properly.
  • The ideal C:N (carbon to nitrogen) ratio is 30:1 (30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen) or 30 parts leaves to 1 part grass clippings.

Compost Ingredients


Yard Waste

  • leaves
  • garden wastes
  • wood chips/sawdust
  • evergreen needles
  • cornstalks
  • grass clippings - can also be left on the lawn

Household Waste

  • vegetable wastes
  • coffee grounds w/ filters
  • egg shells
  • fruit peels & rinds
  • tea bags

Non Compostable Household Wastes

  • bones
  • mayonnaise
  • butter
  • milk
  • pet manure
  • oils
  • cheese
  • peanut butter
  • meats
  • fish scraps
  • grease

For more information on how to compost or for ideas on how to construct your own backyard composting bin, please visit the Cornell Cooperative Extension.