NOMA — Instead of tossing leftovers into the garbage, a select group of residents living north of Montana Avenue can now place their scraps of filet mignon and lobster tails in their green, yard waste bins so the food can be turned into nutrient-rich compost for gardening under a city-sponsored recycling program.

The Food Scraps Curbside Collection Pilot Program kicks off today, city officials said, with 600 single-family homes participating. Those who received a letter in July are eligible.

The scraps will be transported to a private company specializing in commercial composting. In about two weeks, the final product is then returned to City Hall where it is given away for free to residents four times a year, city officials said.

All food can be placed within the green bin including meats, bones, dairy, bread, fruits, vegetables, egg shells, baked goods, rice, beans, pasta, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags and other plate scrapings. Pilot participants should not include liquids, oils, grease or items such as metal, plastic, glass, pet waste, treated wood or other trash. Backyard or vermicomposters can use the pilot for items that should not go in backyard compost piles, such as meat, bones, and dairy.

Food composting is an important step for City Hall as it move toward zero waste, and one that city officials hope Santa Monica residents will find easy and straightforward.

By taking food scraps out of the garbage waste stream, a landfill’s life span can be extended and methane gas production, which contributes to global warming, can be reduced, city officials said. It also reduces the concentration and toxicity of leachate, the water that comes out of landfills that has to be treated.

Participant feedback will be collected throughout the pilot, analyzed and used to potentially develop a citywide rollout of curbside food scraps collection.

For more information about the pilot, visit www.smgov.net/r3 or call the Resource Recovery & Recycling Division at (310) 458-2223.

There will be a free composting workshop on Aug. 14 at Virginia Avenue Park.

kevinh@smdp.com