The Poplar guide to composting in Montana

The Poplar guide to composting in Montana

Interested in learning more about how you can get involved with composting and play your part in the fight against food waste in Montana?  

Poplar has compiled the following resources in each area of the state to help you better understand how to navigate Montana’s network of composting services, haulers, and more. Connect your food scraps and other organic waste to where it needs to go -- out of Montana’s landfills and back into regenerative food systems.  

What is composting? 

Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants. 

Why compost? 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over one-third of the food produced in the United States is never eaten, wasting the resources used to produce it and creating a myriad of environmental impacts. Food waste is the most common material landfilled and incinerated, comprising 24% and 22% of landfilled and combusted municipal solid waste, respectively.  

Food waste in our landfills produces harmful methane emissions and fills needed space. Composting allows you to recycle the nutrient value of food through soil, enriching the land so that the growth cycle can continue. When placed in a landfill, the nutritious organic compounds of food - nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, minerals, etc. - go to waste. When placed back into our soil, these compounds are placed back into new food we grow and eat.  

While composting is an amazing thing we can all do to eliminate waste, only 4.1% of wasted food is composted by US citizens. By choosing to compost, you can help solve this problem, learn something new, and become more connected to your food ecosystem.

While composting is an amazing thing we can all do to eliminate waste, only 4.1% of wasted food is composted by US citizens. By choosing to compost, you can help solve this problem, learn something new, and become more connected to your food ecosystem.

Bozeman, Big Sky, and Belgrade:   

YES Compost:

YES Compost strives to bring back the natural nutrient cycle within the larger Bozeman community, redirecting food waste away from the landfill by instead using it in their vermiculture composting facility (using worms!) to create nature's richest soil.  Each spring you'll receive soil products to use to enrich your garden soils and maximize your plant's fruits and blooms.  They provide you with one of their green buckets to fill with your food scraps and you can either opt to have your full bucket exchanged for a clean at your doorstep, or bring your bucket to one of their bucket exchange kiosks and exchange at your convenience for a clean bucket.  Buckets are pressure washed with 150 degree water between every service, so no messy bucket liner bag is needed! 

Home service subscription

Plug in your address to see if you are eligible for home curbside service

Bucket exchange subscription:

Exchange your full bucket for a clean one up to once per week.

With all subscriptions, you can receive 1 complementary gallon of YES Worm Castings or 15 gallons of YES Compost each Spring (additional soil products available at wholesale pricing). You can also purchase their worm castings here.

Happy Trash Can Curbside Composting

In 2016, Happy Trash Can Compost was created with a vision to create positive change through sustainable food waste collection. As the first company in Bozeman to offer curbside food scrap composting, we have since made a huge impact on our community. We use gore Aerated Static Pile systems to divert a lot of scraps in a big way. We started with a small on-farm pile and a shovel, and now we compost over 20 tons each week. We diverted over 1.5 million pounds of food scraps from the landfill in 2022 alone. 

With your help, we turn your food scraps into fertility for local farmers, gardeners, and our subscribers. As the leaders in Gallatin and Park County, our mission is to make an accessible compost service, and a quality compost product. Every bucket counts. 

Happy Trash Can Compost provides both curbside pick-ups and offers a pay-what-you-can, 24-hour drop-off service. Subscribers also receive 30 gallons of Happy Compost back each year.

Sign up for bi-weekly pickups for $15 per month here.

Sign up for drop-off service here.

City of Bozeman Solid Waste Division 

The City of Bozeman Solid Waste Division offers seasonal yard waste compost collection services from the middle of May through the middle of August to current garbage collection customers. Simply place your yard trimmings in plastic or metal cans near your garbage cans that are clearly labeled "COMPOST", brown paper "compostable” paper bags, (available from local hardware stores), or open plastic bags. 

For exact dates of service, please call them at 582-3237, send them an email, or watch the local paper for service start-up announcements. 


Swift Buckets 

Swift Buckets provides Billings or Laurel residents with a 5-gallon bucket to fill with all of their home food scraps. Each week they come and pick up the waste to be turned into nutrient rich compost. Swift Buckets ferments the food waste to create soil conditioners that are teaming with micro-nutrients that feed beneficial bacteria and boost the microbiology in soil.  

Annually customers can choose to either receive their choice of compost, Big Sky bio liquid concentrate or vermicast, or donate their share to a community garden in the area. 

Weekly compost pickup costs $17.50 per month or $175 for a whole year. 

Check to see if you are in their service area here!  

Rocky Mountain Compost 

Rocky Mountain Compost has been providing high quality, nutrient rich, soil to Yellowstone County residents and businesses for over 20 years. Looking to give your soil some TLC? Purchase some of their compost here. 

Agri Organics 

Agri Organics will deliver their high quality, nutrient dense compost right to your doorstep in the Billings area. Contact them here to learn more! 

Red Lodge: 

Recycle Red Lodge 

Recycle Red Lodge is a grass-roots nonprofit organization of volunteers and responsible citizens working to diminish all kinds of waste in their local community. With membership with them, they help you recycle most of the waste you generate in your home on top of your food waste. Being a member allows you to drop off your waste at their facilities whenever you need. 

Annual Residential Membership $120 

1/2 Year Residential June-Dec - $60 

Car drop off $10 

Large Trailer $30 

Learn more about their hours and check out the full list of everything that you can recycle with them here. 

Great Falls:  

Gardens from Garbage 

Gardens from Garbage is a community nonprofit garden where students and residents of Great Falls can learn more about composting and fresh produce while engaging hands on with the growing process. They have a variety of online resources available for people to learn more about composting and gardening on their website here. 

If you are interested in volunteering and getting hands on experience with composting, reach out to them here!  


Better Roots Composting 

Better Roots Composting allows Helena residents to preserve the planet and eliminate waste through their Residential Curbside compost pickup services. They provide you with a composting bucket (5-gallon, 64-gallon, or 96-gallon) that you fill with your waste, you put it next to your trashcan on the curb, and they pick it up biweekly.  

5-gallon bucket - $14.99/month 

64-gallon bucket - $14.99/month 

96-gallon bin - $19.99/month 

One-time pickup - Call them at 406-603-0114 for a quote 

You can also drop-off your compost at their facility from 7:00am-4:30pm, Monday-Friday & Sun for $0.0195/lb or $5 minimum.  

Learn more about their services and check to see if you are in their service area here 

406 Compost 

406 Compost provides household and business collection for compostable items across Helena and the greater area. The material collected is processed and fed to worms by their partners at YES Compost who are previously mentioned in this article. Subscribers are given a made-in-the-USA leaktite bucket to fill with their food waste that is picked up ever other week and replaced with a clean bucket.  

Residential collection - $20 per month (with a free month for paying a year in advance) 

Additional buckets (one per week or more)  - $5 more per month.  

Additionally, 406 Compost provides quarterly reports of pounds of material collected to feed the worms and pays a per-pound dividend at the end of the year. Sign up here! 

Valley View Landfill 

Valley View Landfill is a family owned and operated private landfill located in East Helena, Montana. The goal of Valley View Landfill is to create a sustainable environment with attention to the reuse of materials. With an account with them, residents can bring their organic waste to their facilities to compost.  

Sign up for an account with them here. 

Ravalli County (Victor, Lolo, Florence, Stevensville, Victor, Corvallis, Hamilton & Darby): 

Victor Transfer Station 

The Victor Transfer station is a responsible waste disposal, diversion and recycling facility located in Victor, MT. Bring your organic waste to the Victor Transfer Station to be composted between 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM on any weekday. Learn more about their hours and other waste disposal services here. 

Little Dumps Bitterroot 

Little Dumps provides nutrient rich compost to their community that is available to purchase in large quantities. You can get their compost delivered to anywhere in their Bitterroot valley service area.  

Columbia Falls/Whitefish. 

Dirt Rich Compost  

Dirt Rich offers an affordable weekly food scrap pickup service right at your doorstep for Columbia Falls and Whitefish residents. They provide you with a bucket and a biodegradable bucket liner, you leave your food scrap bucket on the doorstep, and they will pick it up for you weekly and leave you with a fresh new liner. After composting with them for a full year, they deliver a free bag of compost to your doorstep each spring.  

One 5-gallon bucket - $22 / month 

Two 5-gallon buckets - $34 / month 

Three 5-gallon buckets - $46 / month 

You can also drop off your compost at one of their local bins near you and drop off your scraps at your convenience for $15 / month. Sign up for Dirt Rich’s services here. You can also purchase their compost for use in your own garden here. 


Garden City Compost 

Garden City Compost is the City of Missoula’s compost facility for its citizens. The goal of this facility is to recover resources from the Missoula community, diverting waste from the landfill and providing citizens with consistent, high quality compost products.  

Missoula residents can drop off their waste at the Garden City Compost facility Monday - Friday 7:30am-4pm. If you bring your trash in a plastic bag, it must be emptied while paper bags do not.  

$1.00/bag or $7 for the equivalent of a pick-up or small trailer. 

To learn more about what you can and can’t compost at this facility, check out this page. For more information on how to purchase Garden City Compost visit here 

Missoula Compost Collection 

Missoula Compost Collection is a locally owned and operated L.L.C. on a mission to improve Missoula's waste management. They offer residents a variety of bin sizes to select from and then offer weekly collection at affordable rates for individuals and households.  

Weekly collection for all sizes: 

10 Gallon (Apartments Only) - $18.12/month 

32 Gallon - $22/month 

32 Gallon Bear Resistant - $27/month 

64 Gallon  - $27/month 

96 Gallon - $32/month 

Countertop Bucket and Liners -$20 One Time 

Take a look at the service area map to ensure your address is within the pickup route.  

Soil Cycle 

Soil Cycle is a nonprofit that offers sustainable zero-waste services and programs focused on reducing organic waste in order to divert valuable materials from the landfill, educate the community, and create quality natural fertilizers. 

Receive a sanitary 5-gallon bucket, toss compostable items into your new compost bin, and leave it on your front porch to be picked up on your scheduled neighborhood collection day. 

Soil Cycle bikes to your home (yes you read that right), scrapes out your bucket, and then processes your scraps into compost. About twice a year, you can look forward to getting your cured compost or compost tea back after your scraps have been turned into rich soil. 

Household Drop-off only (up to 2x a month) —$10.73 per month 

1 pick up every 2 weeks (2x a month)—$20.90 per month 

1 pick up every week (4x a month)—$33 per month 

One time drop off fee—$10 per 5 gallons 

You can also purchase their compost here 

Missoula Dirt Delivery 

Purchase compost from Missoula Dirt Delivery if your soil needs a pick me up here. They will drop it off at your doorstep! 


West Yellowstone Compost Facility 

Bordering the incredible Yellowstone National Park to the east and surrounded by spectacular mountain ranges in all other directions, the West Yellowstone area’s remote location and dramatic peaks in population from visitors makes waste disposal a challenge.  

Fortunately, the West Yellowstone/Hebgen Basin Solid Waste District Board has developed a facility for visitors and residents to drop off your compost and other waste here. 

$8.00 Minimum Charge up to 120 lbs. 

Regular Household Waste - $126/ton - $0.063/lb 

Manure - $60/ton 

Hay, Grass, Yard Trimmings - $70/ton 

Learn more information by visiting their website here.  

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