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

Composting Organic Waste

CompostingComposting 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.

Composting Options

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.

Compost Yes
Compost No
EPA Food Recovery Pyramid
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Waste not, want not

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, which has lots of great ideas about smart shopping, meal planning, food storage, and more.

Food Waste Donations

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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