PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Beginning on Oct. 1, Washington County residents can toss their food scraps into their yard debris roll carts as part of a new composting program.

Washington County officials say the Board of Commissioners approved the program and collection rate changes back in June of this year. All single-family homes within the county’s urban areas and cities, with the exception of Banks, are eligible.

However, the composting program is optional for everyone.

Officials say collection schedules will remain the same, and residents can opt into the food scrap collecting service simply by emptying their food waste into their yard debris roll carts.

Prior to disposing of the food scraps, the county recommends collecting them in plastic tubs, takeout containers or kitchen pails.

Foods including meat, eggshells, uneaten leftovers and paper coffee filters are permitted. Other items like cooking oil, wax paper and drink cups are prohibited.

Washington County Solid Waste and Recycling Manager Thomas Egleston says officials are excited to offer the service to community members.

“A 2016 Oregon Department of Environmental Quality study found that almost 30% of residential garbage is food,” Egleston said. “When food starts to break down in landfills, it releases methane gas, which traps heat in our atmosphere and contributes to climate change. The good news is community members can help reduce food waste sent to landfills by participating in a curbside compost collection.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, composting can also boost water retention in soils, help with reforestation, and increase agricultural crop yields.