Compostable Cups, Plates and Utensils

Trash Organics

Do not place plant-based cups, plates, or utensils in the recycling. The addition of bioplastic, wax, and/or petroleum plastic are considered contaminants.

Place in Trash Container

  • Bioplastic utensils. Looks and feels like plastic, but made from plants.
  • Bioplastic cold cups, lids, and straws. Looks and feels like plastic, but made from plants.
  • Hot cups. These have a liner that is bioplastic, petroleum plastic, or wax. Looks like paper on the outside, but the inside has a liner.

Place in Organics Container (if food scraps are allowed)*

  • Fiber-based plates. These must be 100% fiber-based and have no liner, coating, or filler that is made from petroleum plastic, bioplastic, or wax. Looks like molded fiber with no coating
  • Utensils that are non-coated bamboo, wood, and other 100% plant-fiber based.
  • Stir sticks that are wood-based stir sticks or edible options like pasta.
  • Straws that are made from 100% paper, plant-fiber, or edible options.

*For those Athens communities, where food is accepted in the organics container, utensils made from wood or bamboo, and 100% fiber-based plates, are allowed with green waste collection. If food is not allowed in your organics container, please place these items in the trash.

Does my city accept food scraps and food-soiled paper in the organics container?

  • Commercial Accounts: Athens can provide food scrap collection for most business accounts. Check your city for verification.
  • Residential Accounts: Currently, not all cities have added food scrap collection to their services. Check your city for verification.

If you do not have an organics container (that also accept food scraps and food-soiled paper), please place compostable cups, plates & utensils in the trash.

no compost

Don't Compost Them at Home

Bioplastic doesn’t belong in your home compost pile, regardless of whether it’s biodegradable or compostable. Utensils made from bioplastic won’t break down fully unless processed by an industrial facility.

Ways to Reduce


Choose Reusable for Parties

Provide guests with reusable utensils when entertaining. Dishes only need to be washed to be reused time and time again.


Pack Reusable Utensils

Reduce plastic waste by packing a pair of to-go utensils for on-the-go meals. Metal or bamboo utensils, such as To-Go Ware, are best. Visit To-Go Ware’s online shop.

Did You Know?

Compostable Utensils: Not the Most Eco-Friendly of Them All?

Out of all types of utensils — compostable, plastic and reusable — compostables are advertised as being the most eco-friendly. However, reusable utensils are still the front-runner because they last for so long and are easily recycled at the end of their life.

What's the Difference Between "Biodegradable" and "Compostable"?

Biodegradable does not always mean compostable.
The Federal Trade Commission Green Guides has very specific labeling requirements for items that are marketed as “biodegradable” or “compostable,” as a means to avoid deception.
Just because something is labeled as “compostable,” does not mean that your local compost facility will process it.
In California, Senate Bill 567 prohibits labeling of any plastic or bioplastic product as biodegradable, oxo-degradable, oxo-biodegradable, or photodegradable.

PLA Plastic vs. PET Plastic

PET plastic is a petroleum-based plastic while PLA plastic is a bioplastic typically made from fermented plant starch. While PET plastic can be easily recycled, PLA is more difficult to recycle and requires a special facility in order to be composted. Before disposing, avoid contaminating your recycling by double-checking whether your item is PET or PLA and the current disposal instructions for that material.