When organic materials (food scraps, yard waste, manure, etc.) are broken down by microorganisms, the resulting nutrient-rich product is called compost. The LPS composting program is district wide. That waste is then hauled to one of several commercial compost operations in the Lincoln area, each with a varying process of breaking down the organic material.

The composting operation at Prairieland Dairy Farm uses a turned windrow system, where the organic material is formed into long narrow piles that are turned periodically during a 6 to 9-month curing process. This method requires controlled conditions, so the temperature, moisture, and oxygen levels are closely monitored. Once the process is complete, the compost product is a valuable soil amendment that can be used to improve local soils.

Some schools also send their organic waste to Big Red Worms, which is a vermicomposting operation. Vermicomposting involves the use of worms, Red Wigglers in this case, to break down the organic waste and turn it into the nutrient rich product.

This video will teach you about the recycling and composting process at our schools, and how the composting material helps the community when it leaves the school.

How does the LPS compost program work?

A good portion of lunch materials are compostable, but some are not. Before students are dismissed, they are asked to sort their tray into the appropriate categories. These categories include liquids, milk cartons, compost, and landfill items. Click on each category below to learn more about where individual items go.

The Results

Once a school implements the food waste compost program in their cafeteria, they are diverting both compostable and recyclable materials from the landfill. So far, the composting schools have experienced an average diversion rate of 52%, which means over half of their waste is being recycled or composted instead of being sent to the landfill. Before the compost program, some of those buildings had a diversion rate below 20%, so this program is having a HUGE impact on our waste management!

Check out our DIVERSION REPORTS to see how each of the schools are doing!


Compost Program Resource Toolkit

Staff members, please check out our Waste Resources for Staff page for any further questions.

Click on the items below to see where to put each tray item at the end of the lunch period!


Liquids must be emptied from cartons into the appropriate container. This will likely be the first step when emptying a lunch tray.


Milk carton

Empty cartons will be recycled. After dumping excess liquid into the appropriate liquids container, place the cartons in the container with the mesh lining. This will allow the small amount of liquid remaining in the container to drip out and dry. It is very important that the cartons go to the recycling facility completely

Cans and Plastic Bottles

Cans and plastic bottles should be placed in the appropriate container that should be labeled. Make sure to remove the lids of any plastic bottles before throwing the bottle into the recycling bin!


Aluminum trash can

Certain plastics that can’t be recycled go into the landfill. These plastics include: wrappers, dishes that are contaminated with food, and single use plastic such as cutlery. Styrofoam and foil also go to the landfill.


open organic waste bin

All food scraps: any food left over on the tray can go into the green composting bin.
Paper products include: napkins, straw wrappers, bowls, plates, and cups.
Compostable dishes include: plant-based bowls and dishes. The dishes are labeled as compostable and every school has compostable dishes.