Public Works and Environmental Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our administrative office is open 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Mon. - Fri.

TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway
Suite 458, Fairfax, Va 22035

Eric Forbes,
Director, Solid Waste Management

Food Scraps Composting Drop Off

Fairfax County's Solid Waste Management Program (SWMP) accepts food scraps for composting at two County facilities: the I-95 Landfill Complex and the I-66 Transfer Station. These sites are open seven days a week, Monday - Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m. You can drop off your food scraps into one of the bins located in the designated drop-off areas (example shown below).

Compost Drop Off Site
Compost Drop Off bins

The pilot drop-off program at farmers markets sponsored by SWMP has come to an end. However, the Fairfax County Parks Authority (FCPA) is working to bring food waste recycling to all farmers market locations for the coming season. Please contact FCPA for more details.

How Does It Work?

Scrape food scraps into compost bucket
Scrape food scraps into compost bucket
Scrape food scraps into compost bucket

While you’re cooking dinner, scrape the trimmings from your vegetables or pieces of meat into your countertop container. This could be potato peels, bones, or egg shells. If you had coffee or tea, the grounds or the tea bag can go in too. After dinner, you can scrape whatever’s left on you plate into the container. You may choose to keep your food waste in your fridge or freezer before you’re ready to take it to the drop-off site. Or you may choose to use a sealed countertop container. Do whatever works for you.

When you’ve accumulated a good amount of food waste, it’s time to drop it off at the location that’s most convenient for you. If you lined the bucket with a compostable liner, you can throw that in too. If you used a regular plastic bag, you’ll need to empty the food scraps into the container and throw away the plastic bag separately. Rinse the bucket out when you get home. And pat yourself on the back – you just made a difference.

Please repurpose reusable, or compostable containers, bags, boxes, or bins for the purpose of transporting your food scraps to the drop-off sites. For more information, or general inquiries regarding this program, contact the Outreach Team at 703-324-5230.

The graphic below should tell you everything you need to know about what you can, and cannot, place into the food waste bins. It is important to keep contaminants like plastic bags, pet waste, and wrappers out of the bin. This is a pilot program; the goal is to find out if we can successfully collect food waste to be turned into high-quality compost. It will take all of us working together to make this pilot a success that we can build upon.

Composting Organic Waste

Composting is nature’s way of recycling. It is the controlled breakdown of yard waste, food scraps, and other organic material. Composting is the way that nature recycles. In nature, when a leaf falls to the forest floor, it is consumed and digested by a host of creatures, from worms and insects to microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which farmers markets will have food composting drop off service?

There are four markets participating in this pilot program. They are the only farmers markets that will offer this service. Please visit the farmers market webpages below for scheduled dates and hours before you go!

Wednesday – Mount Vernon Farmers Market located at 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane, Alexandria, VA, 22306

Thursday – Herndon Farmers Market located at Old Town Herndon 765 Lynn St., Herndon, VA, 20170, by the Red Caboose.

Friday – Kingstowne Farmers Market located at Kingstowne 5844-5862 Kingstowne Center, Alexandria, VA, 22315.

Saturday – Burke Farmers Market located at 5671 Roberts Parkway (VRE Parking Lot), Burke, VA, 22015

Sunday – Mosaic District Farmers Market located at 2910 District Ave., Fairfax, VA 22031

When can I drop off my food scraps?

Food scrap composting will be available during regular market hours. Please do not drop off food scraps before or after the regular market hours.

Why don’t all markets offer food composing drop off service?

This is a pilot program – we’re trying to see how to best provide this service. Also, not all markets have space for composting.

What should I do if I cannot make it to the market?

There are two locations at the Fairfax County Solid Waste Management facilities

The I-66 Transfer Station located at 4618 West Ox Road, Fairfax, VA, 22030 

The I-95 Landfill Complex located at 9850 Furnace Road, Lorton, VA, 22079 

Hours of operation - OPEN 7 Days a week

  • Monday - Friday 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.

How does food waste composting make a difference?

Composting food waste could potentially reduce the amount of waste we produce by as much as 33% (EPA). Composting diverts our food scraps from landfills and incinerators. Composting is a sustainable alternative that puts the nutrients from our food scraps back into the earth and, eventually, our food system by using the finished compost as a fertilizer for local farms. Composting is the final step to completing a truly sustainable food cycle system.

Why Is food waste composting important?

Compost adds nutrients and organic matter back into soil, which benefits agriculture, reduces our reliance on synthetic fertilizers, diverts methane-producing organic materials, and improves soil’s water retention. Food scrap composting is just one way to reduce waste. Americans waste so much food every day – the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that between 30 - 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is never eaten.

Where can I store food waste before I drop it off?

You can store food waste in a closed container on your counter or in your fridge or freezer. You can use something like an old coffee container, a laundry pod container (they have the screw-on lids) or a compost caddy that is specially designed to hold food waste.

Where is the compost drop-off located?

The two locations are at the Fairfax County Solid Waste Disposal Centers

The I-66 Transfer Station: 4618 West Ox Road, Fairfax, VA, 22030

The I-95 Landfill Complex: 9850 Furnace Road, Lorton, VA, 22079

When is the compost drop-off open?

The two locations will be open the same hours as the facilities.

There are two locations at the Fairfax County Solid Waste Management facilities

The I-66 Transfer Station located at 4618 West Ox Road, Fairfax, VA, 22030 

The I-95 Landfill Complex located at 9850 Furnace Road, Lorton, VA, 22079 

Hours of operation - OPEN 7 days a week

  • Monday - Friday 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Where can I buy certified compostable bags?

You can buy certified compostable bags at grocery and home improvement stores in your area. You can also buy bags through major online retailers. Can’t find them in your neighborhood? Ask your local store to start carrying them. You can also make a bin liner from newspaper – watch this video!

Do I have to buy special bags?

If you choose to line your collection container, there are many options that do not require a special product. Collect scraps in newspaper and discard together or use a regular plastic bag to empty scraps into the green bin, then throw away the bag. You can also make a bin liner from newspaper – watch this video!

How do I keep my food waste container clean and fresh?

Empty and wash the kitchen container regularly. Lining the container with compostable bags or other material will make cleaning up easier. Some residents also store food scraps in bags or containers inside the freezer until they drop it off. If storing food waste outside, make sure the container latched and in a shaded area, especially during warm weather. Alternate layers of food scraps with shredded paper or newspaper to absorb moisture and odors.

Will the food waste attract wildlife?

It will if the container is accessible. Make sure the container you put outside has a tight-fitting lid.

What items can I put in the food waste composting bin?

All food items are accepted, including meat, dairy, and leftovers. Food-soiled paper like tea bags, coffee filters, napkins, and paper plates are also acceptable.

Are meat and bones ok? I can’t compost them in my backyard.

Yes! Meat, bones, and dairy are all accepted. The composting facilities being used for the pilot program are designed to compost these materials, as well as paper and certified compostable plastic liners.

What happens to the food waste after it has been collected?

The waste is taken to a local composting facility. Finished compost is used for landscaping and agriculture.

What about donating food to people in need?

It is always better to have food consumed by people or animals. This program is intended to divert food that would otherwise go into the trash and turn it into a useful product. We encourage the support of local food banks, especially for dry goods. Here are some resources for food donation.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant