Director, Solid Waste Management
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.
Organic waste comes from plant or animal sources. Commonly, they include food waste, fruit and vegetable peels, yard waste; even the food left on your plate can be classified as organic waste. They are biodegradable (this means they are easily broken down by other organisms over time). Many people turn their organic waste into compost and use it in their gardens.
Compost improves the soil’s porosity and reduces the frequency of watering. See more on the benefits of composting at these websites: Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District and Virginia Cooperative Extension have information you can use to start composting.
Fairfax County residents now have several options for managing their organic waste. Whether you decide to compost at home, contract for curbside collection, or take your organic matter elsewhere, know that you will be doing your part to make the environment be a safer, cleaner place for everyone.
You can buy a compost bin or make one yourself. In a few months, you will have a great (and free) soil amendment for your garden and flowers.
Composting involves combining food waste and yard waste to help bring vital nutrients back to the soil. To compost correctly and efficiently, there are four ingredients in the recipe: Nitrogen, Oxygen, Water, and Carbon. The ratio of each depends on the weather conditions and type of organic waste you have. By mixing these ingredients, the result is usually a dark, crumbled mixture comprised of organic decaying material. For more information, visit the Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Food waste makes up as much as one-third of the trash we dispose of every day. We have been composting yard waste for several years – now we are ready to tackle food waste.
There are two locations where residents can drop off food waste to be composted: at the I-95 Landfill Complex and the I-66 Transfer Station. They are open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week.
Yard Waste (leaves and grass) is collected separately from trash and recyclables from March through December. The yard waste is delivered to composting facilities that convert the materials into compost, a nutrient-rich, soil-like material. Woody materials are taken to the county's facilities where they are ground into mulch and available to residents at no cost. For more information, visit Yard Waste.
There are companies operating in Fairfax County that will pick up your food waste. This is a great option for people who want to manage their food waste sustainably, but are unable to compost at home. For a list of the companies that are registered to collect food waste, visit Permitted Solid Waste Collection Companies
We've all done it - buy food that doesn't get eaten, only to be dumped in the trash when we clean out the fridge. If it feels wasteful, it is! There are lots of strategies for making better use of the food we buy - check out www.Savethefood.com, which has lots of great ideas about smart shopping, meal planning, food storage, and more.
There are times when a retail or wholesale business, restaurant, or caterer will have leftover food that could be donated, and there are several organizations in the area that attempt to match sources of food with organizations that can distribute it to those in need. Organizations in Fairfax County that accept donations of food can be found in the Human Services Resource Guide search: Food.
Virginia law protects those who donate food from civil liability in certain cases:
A. Any farmer, processor, distributor, wholesaler, food service establishment, restaurant, or retailer of food, including a grocery, convenience, or other store selling food or food products, who donates food to any food bank or any second harvest certified food bank or food bank member charity that is exempt from taxation under 26 U.S.C. § 501(c) (3), which maintains a food storage facility certified by the Department and, where required by ordinance, by the State Department of Health, for use or distribution by the organization shall be exempt from civil liability arising from any injury or death resulting from the nature, age, condition, or packaging of the donated food. The exemption of this section shall not apply if the injury or death directly results from the gross negligence or intentional act of the donor. If the donor is a food service establishment or a restaurant, such donor shall comply with the regulations of the Board of Health with respect to the safe preparation, handling, protection, and preservation of food, including necessary refrigeration or heating methods, pursuant to the provisions of Code of Virginia § 35.1-14.
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12000 Government Center Pkwy
Fairfax, VA 22035