Office of Sustainability shares update on successful pilot program for food scraps composting

Asheville woman making compost


The City of Asheville, in partnership with Buncombe County and Natural Resource Defense Council’s Food Matters program, launched a pilot food scrap drop-off program earlier this year and we are pleased to report it has been amazingly successful.


Two food scraps drop-off sites at Stephens-Lee Recreation Center and Buncombe County Landfill Convenience Center have been open to the public since early October. City and County residents have enthusiastically embraced the opportunity and are actively participating. 


Here’s a quick snapshot of program stats:

  • Participation by more than 720 households, nearly 2,000 individuals.
  • Majority of participants have never composted before.
  • 4.6 tons (9,200 pounds) or of food waste have been diverted from landfill during the first eight weeks of the pilot program.


In the United States, 35% of all food goes unsold or uneaten, and most of that goes to waste.  Our homes contribute significantly to  this food surplus and spoilage.  In North Carolina, residential food waste measured accounted for over 40% of food waste generated in 2019.  That’s over a million tons, $5 million dollars,  233 billion gallons of water, 1.68 billion meals,  and 5.21 metric tons of CO2 headed to our landfills — what a waste! 


With the success of the pilot program, City staff are working hard to right-size the program to meet demand while collaborating with our composting partner, Danny’s Dumpsters.  In the first eight weeks of the program, we’ve added four more 65-gallon roll carts, increased service to twice a week and improved the shed locking system in response to feedback from users. 


For those residents who are unable to backyard compost, the City of Asheville is working to connect you with alternate options to keep our organic matter out of the landfill. There are many ways our households can cut down on food waste. These include by shopping smarter (as simple as making a list and sticking to it!), organizing our refrigerators, and being creative about incorporating leftovers and food trimmings into meals.  


After minimizing the waste we are making in our kitchens, we can also cut down on food waste and scraps going to our landfill by increasing our composting options.  Many Asheville residents already compost at home, so thank you! Through a City partnership with Asheville Greenworks, there are great resources to support you in closing the loop in your own backyard. 


As we monitor interest and success of this pilot program and evaluate participant data,  residents are encouraged to look for expansion into neighborhood locations in spring 2022. Find details and registration on the Office of Sustainability’s compost webpage. There you will also find tips on how to begin composting.