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Composting at the City Market

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Charlottesville Composting LogoFor a fifth year, the City is providing a drop-off location at the City Market for community members to compost their household food scraps (instead of sending them to a landfill). The City has contracted with Black Bear Composting to collect the compostable material and process it at a permitted composting facility. Permitted facilities can accept materials typically not wanted or unable to break down in backyard composting piles (such as oils and grease, meat scraps, dairy, egg shells, and certified compostable plastics). 

We also have volunteer opportunities!  Scroll down for more information!

Information about other area composting options is listed at


2019 Composting at the City Market: a Drop-Off Collection Program

April to October 2019 
8am to Noon
Saturdays at the City Market

Residents can bring their household food scraps for drop-off. Accepted compostable materials included:

  • all food and plant items (i.e. fruit and veggie remains, bread scraps, eggshells, meat/bones; coffee grounds and filters; household plant remnants; cooking oils)

  • uncoated paper not otherwise recyclable (i.e. napkins, food-soiled newspaper and pizza boxes, paper towels, wax paper)

  • certified compostable products (i.e. corn-based plastic cups). 

    Certified Compostable Label

Image of Composting Program Guidelines Image showing location of Composting Station (corner of 2nd St SE and Water St)


Download the PDF handout for a summary of the Composting Program Guidelines.

Residents who are interested in participating can pick up a free compostable bag at the City Market Composting station. Thank you for being part of this program!

Questions or comments? Email


Want to Help Expand the City Market Composting Program?  Volunteers Welcome!

Image of composting icon and "Composting Volunteer"We’re seeking volunteers to help us on Saturday mornings. Volunteer tasks will vary but could include setting up/taking down stations, monitoring waste stations, interacting with market patrons and vendors, answering questions about composting, and assisting with data tracking.

We’re offering two shifts from 8:00am-10:00am and 10:00am-12:00pm, but please contact us if you would like to arrange an alternate time for volunteering. 

You can sign up online for specific shifts: Volunteer Sign Up Form

You can also contact us with any questions at


Q: What happens to the material the Composting Station collects? 

A: The materials collected will be processed at a commercial composting facility (permitted by the VA DEQ).


Q: How will you make sure everything breaks down fully, and that the final compost product is free from things like E Coli or Salmonella? 

A: Permitted composting facilities monitor and rotate the composting piles to ensure that they reach the temperatures required to prevent dangerous bacteria and to fully break down the material. It’s all part of the process required to be permitted by the VA DEQ.


Q: Will we be able to get garden-ready compost back at some point? 

A: Not as part of this program. This program aims to divert compostable materials from the landfill and to collect input on what composting services/program models Charlottesville residents are interested in. Share your thoughts with us by emailing


Q: When is the Composting Drop-Off Station available? Is this a permanent location? 

A: The Composting Station will be set up and able to accept material only on Saturdays during the City Market. Collected materials will be moved to an off-site commercial composting facility to be processed. An alternate location for compost drop-off is available at the McIntire Recycling Center everyday (except for Tuesdays) during their operating hours. For information on how to compost in your backyard, see Backyard Composting.


Q: Aren’t animal products, like bones and dairy, bad for composting? 

A: While several items (like animal products and compostable plastics) are not suitable for a home compost pile, permitted composting facilities can accept these items. Because these facilities use high heat not attainable by home compost piles and special machinery to turn their compost, they can process almost any organic material. Organic items not accepted are pet waste, diapers, and cigarette butts.


Q: Does it cost money to participate in this program? 

A: Nope! This program is free to use. We even provide free compostable bags for participants to collect their compostables in to make participating that much easier.


Q: I have filled up one of my compostable bags, but it’s only Wednesday and I can’t drop it off until Saturday! I am worried about the smell. What should I do? 

A: An easy fix for this is to tie off the filled bag and stick it in your freezer. This will contain any smells and make it easy for drop-off once market day rolls around. If you find that one bag isn’t enough to get you through the week, be sure to ask for a couple extra at the City Market Composting Station. We will be happy to provide as many bags as you think you need! You can also consider signing up for our drop-off program, beginning as a pilot program in November 2018 (


Q: The compostable bags are too small to fit in my trash can. Is there any way I can get a larger bag? 

A: Yes! We now have a variety of sizes available (3 gallon grocery store sized; 13 gallon kitchen trash bin sized; and 33 gallon sized). Just specify which size you would like at the City Market Composting Station. 


Q: Why might my compostables be weighed when I drop them off? 

A: We sometime track the total weight and type of compostables dropped off by participants each week to gauge interest and program growth over the market season. This information will help inform the future of this program and other future composting programs in Charlottesville.


Q: Where will I be able to compost once the City Market ends? 

A: There are several options around Charlottesville that are available year-round. Please check out for options.

History of the Compost Program

Composting at the City Market began as a pilot program, funded through a one-time grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and was available to all interested residents and ran from April 2015 to October 2015 during the Saturday City Market. It was intended to divert compostable waste from landfills by collecting compostable material from residents and from the City Market. The pilot program did not include the option for residents to pick up garden-ready compost.

A report on the program's results was presented to City Council on Nov. 16, 2015. The presentation and memo begin on page 71 of the Nov. 16, 2015 Council Agenda Packet. is helping us share the progress of this program. Check out their blog and graphing of your efforts on their website: