Public compost pilot program launches in Buncombe County

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

We talked trash with y’all earlier this year when we brought you behind the scenes of a local recycling plant, but how about compost

Over the last 4 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 2 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. 

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

Why this matters: 

  • A waste audit conducted earlier last month 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.