get a rebate for a bin to turn your food scraps into compost?


1. Learn about this resource. 

Residents can get a rebate when they attend a required workshop and buy composting equipment for their home. Food waste, like fruit and vegetable scraps, can be broken down into compost. Compost is rich in nutrients and can be added to soil as a fertilizer to help with gardening and farming. We—DC Government—offer a one-time rebate of up to $75 and not more than the cost of the system minus $25. For example, if you buy a $90 composting system, you can get a $65 rebate.


This program is called Home Composting and is offered by the DC Department of Public Works. If you can’t or don’t want to compost at your home, you can bring your food waste to a location near you on weekends, and we’ll compost it for you.

2. Check if you are eligible.

You may be eligible if you live in DC. Both homeowners and renters can apply.

3. Apply.

  1. Decide what type of composting system you’d like to use. We—DC Government—provide workshops for two different types of composting:
    • Traditional backyard composting: Typically done in a bin outside, this method relies on natural heat-loving organisms to break down organic waste. It requires you to turn, or stir, the compost a couple times a month to help let in oxygen.
    • Vermicomposting: Worms are used to break down organic waste. This should be done in a bin indoors or in a location with stable temperatures, since the worms can die if temperatures get too cold or too hot.
  2. Sign up online for the required two-hour workshop. Make sure to select a workshop for the type of composting system you’d like to use. As of April 2021, workshops are virtual but will be held in person once we can lift coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. You will get a confirmation email with the meeting information. If all scheduled workshops are full, email and ask to be notified when more become available.
  3. Attend the required workshop. Our composting trainer will give tips on how to find an eligible composting system and can answer your questions. Within two days after the workshop, you’ll receive an email from the trainer with the presentation slides, a link to a workshop recording, and information about how to apply for the rebate.
  4. Buy an eligible home composting system and keep your receipt to submit with your application. Keep in mind that:
    • We don’t offer rebates for homemade composting systems, open bins, wire bins, digesters, electric composters, and bokashi systems.
    • You must buy the type of composting system you attended a workshop for (either backyard or worm compost system).
  5. Gather one document that proves you live in DC, such as your driver license, lease, utility bill, or credit card statement. Check the full list of documents we accept if you’re not sure. You may need to scan or copy your document, depending on how you apply. Please don’t submit originals.
  6. Complete a rebate application.
  7. Submit your application, receipt for the compost system, and proof of residency by email to or by mail to:
Composting Program Institute for Local Self-Reliance 1200 18th Street NW, Suite 700 Washington, DC 20036 We recommend you attend a workshop before buying your composting system to ensure it meets all rebate requirements. Composting systems that do not meet all requirements or that were purchased before July 17, 2018 are not eligible for a rebate. If you have questions about the requirements, email

4. Gather more information.

What happens after I apply?

  1. Within 5 business days after receiving your application, our composting trainer will call or email you to let you know whether you’ve been approved.
  2. Within 30 days after your application is approved, the trainer will mail you a check.
If your application is not approved, our trainer will let you know why. You can reapply if your circumstances change in the future.

Are there any additional requirements I should know about?

You must attend a workshop to be eligible for a rebate for your composting equipment. The receipt for your composting system can’t be from before July 17, 2018.

Who should I contact if I have questions?

First, take a look at the frequently asked questions below. If you still have questions, please reach out to the Home Composting team at (202) 673-6833, Monday to Friday, 8:15 am to 4:45 pm. Or, you can email the team at using the subject line “Home Composting Question.”

I still need help making my home more environmentally friendly. What should I do?

You can find information about other resources that might help on our environmental resources page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is my rebate calculated? Your rebate amount will be the cost of the system you purchased minus $25, up to a maximum rebate of $75. This means that you are responsible for the first $25, and we—DC Government—cover the rest, up to $75. For example, if your system costs $90, you can get a $65 rebate. Home composting systems can cost anywhere from $50 to $300, depending on the equipment you choose. What is composting? Composting is a process where organisms, such as microbes, fungi, or worms, break down your food waste and other organic material, into compost. Compost is rich in nutrients and can be added to soil to help new plants grow. You need the right mixture of items with lots of nitrogen (such as food waste or fresh grass clippings), items with lots of carbon (such as leaves, straw, or sticks), oxygen, and water. Why should I compost? Composting keeps food waste out of landfills, which can help lower harmful methane emissions. It also creates a nutrient-rich natural fertilizer that you can use in your garden to grow food and other plants. What if I can’t compost at my home? If you can’t or don’t want to compost at your home, you can bring your food waste to a location near you on weekends, and we will compost it for you.

Do all eligible applicants receive the rebate?

No, this program is first-come, first-serve. Workshops have limited space, but so far everyone who has attended a workshop and bought an eligible composting system has received the rebate.

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Keywords: composting workshop, rebate, reduce food waste, compost at home, homeowners, renters, sustainability, refund, conservation, discount


This page was last updated May 2021.