News & Politics

Map: Here’s Where You Can Drop Off Your Compost Around Washington

Photograph by Flickr user normanack.

You’re probably not too far from a drop-off point for your food scraps. The District transports your apple cores and coffee grinds to a local composting facility, where they are turned into rich soil amendment that’s later added to community gardens. Plus, if you drop off your compost at DC farmer’s markets, you can learn even more from the compost experts on hand. The District’s Eastern Market location is already operational, but the other drop-off points have varying launch dates so check our map below f0r more information.

Here’s a map below of Washington-area drop-off points, as well as a guide to other compost-related resources.

First time composting? Here’s what you need to know.

Why should I compost?
Nearly a third of the materials that end up in landfills can be composted. Collecting food scraps keeps useful materials out of the waste stream and reduces harmful greenhouse gases. Compost is essentially nature’s recycling program, and gardeners refer to the rich, broken-down organic matter as “black gold.”

I’d rather pay for someone else to pick up my compost, or I want to compost at my business.
Compost Cab, Veteran Compost, and Compost Crew serve residents in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Maryland folks can also turn to Growing Soul, which serves restaurants and other establishments. DC’s Fat Worm Compost now serves businesses exclusively. If you live in Takoma Park, you’re eligible for curbside food waste pickup, a free city program that operates much like typical garbage and recycling services.

What can I put in the compost?
Short answer: If it grows, it goes.
Fruit, vegetable scraps, and salad
Coffee grounds, paper tea bags, and loose tea
Bread, grains, cereals, rice, and pasta
Stale beans, flour, and spices
Cut or dried flowers

What materials are not allowed?
Individual services may vary, but the free city services do not accept:
Milk, cheese, or other dairy products
Meat or fish scraps and bones
Fats, grease, oil, or oily foods
Plastic bags, wraps or film
Coated or uncoated paper and cardboard (paper bags, plates, bowls)
Non-compostable materials like plastic, metals, foil, glass, or styrofoam
Pet refuse
Diseased or insect-infested houseplants and soil
Biodegradable or compostable plastics & packaging

How should I transport my food waste to the drop-off point? 
Bring your scraps in covered plastic containers, or in paper or plastic bags. Remember that plastic bags aren’t biodegradable or recyclable, and will end up in the trash.

What about the smell?
Rinse plastic containers holding the food waste after each use, and you can also line the bottom with shredded newspaper. Storing food scraps in a sealed bag or plastic container in the freezer or refrigerator also cuts odor.

Can businesses bring their food waste? 
No, this is for non-commercial residents only.

I really love compost. 
If you’re enthusiastic about biodegradable waste, consider joining DC’s Community Compost Cooperative Network.

This post has been updated.

Julie Strupp is an editorial fellow. Before Washingtonian, she did francophone video, radio, and photography projects addressing gender-based violence in Togo, West Africa with Peace Corps. She worked at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and AllAfrica and has contributed to Mic, Center for Public Integrity, DCist, and more. Now a proud Petworth-dweller, she’s also a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate who loves judo, biking, art, and keeping the powerful accountable.