Public compost pilot program launches in Buncombe County

The City of Asheville launched its Food Policy Action Plan back in 2017. | Photo courtesy of the City of Asheville

Over the last four years, both the City of Asheville and Buncombe County have been steadily ramping up campaigns to reduce food waste, and this month they’re piloting a joint community solution: a free food scrap drop-off program.

How to use this new service:

  • Consult this guide to determine what’s compostable. Generally, any organic materials like fruit + vegetable scraps, expired food, coffee grounds, cardboard, etc. are viable choices, but be sure to remove produce stickers, rubber bands, ties, bags, and plastic.
  • Sign up with the city or Asheville GreenWorks for a short information session and get a free compost pail to use for collecting food scraps.
  • There are currently three public drop-off locations for Buncombe residents, both of which require filling out a short registration form:
    • The Buncombe County Landfill, 85 Panther Branch Rd., Alexander, Open Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sat., 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    • Stephens-Lee Recreation Center, 30 Washington Carver Ave., Open Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat., 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Sun., 12-4 p.m.
    • Murphy Oakley Community Center, 749 Fairview Rd.

A waste audit in progress. | Video grab from Buncombe County, Gif by AVLtoday via GIPHY

Why this matters:

  • A waste audit conducted in September 2022 at a Buncombe County building revealed that 67% of its landfill-bound waste could be recycled or composted. Another audit conducted in June at 3 Asheville Parks & Recreation facilities found that 48% of what was in the garbage could’ve been composted.
  • When food scraps go into the garbage instead of composting, they release the greenhouse gas methane, which is a substance that has been linked to climate change.
  • Methane is not released when compost decomposes above ground, plus the materials are super valuable ingredients for farmers + gardeners.

What’s next:

Want to get deeper into the weeds? Check out this guide we put together, which shares private composting services + backyard compost options. We also highlight local restaurants who are committed to composting.