Community Compost Drop-off

Compost your household kitchen scraps at the downtown community Compost Drop-off bins! Drop-offs can be made anytime year round at the bins’ permanent spot on the edge of the gravel parking lot at S. Liberty and Warren Streets within sight of the Turner Pavilion and Municipal Building. See images below.

In addition, learn more about what and how you can compost by dropping your compostables off at our Saturday Harrisonburg Farmers Market station, April-October. (Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is precluding our presence at the Market in 2020.)



Anyone is welcome to drop off their household kitchen scraps to these 65-gallon Black Bear Composting bins at anytime. Your compostables can be dumped directly from another container or placed in a paper bag, paper box (remove any plastic tape and/or plastic labels) or BPI-certified compostable “plastic” bag.

Compostable bags, to line containers for ease of collecting your scraps, are available at the community drop-off bins site, and at the Market Compost Drop-off Station. Note that the compostable bags will start to decompose and leak when wet and warm so carry them in a sturdy container for depositing to the bins.

Black Bear Composting picks up the collected organic “trash” once each week and transports it to their commercial scale composting facility in Crimora to be turned into finished compost for sale.


Complete list of accepted compostables HERE. Click on the image below for a larger version of this poster.


Questions? Contact Adrie at hburgcomposts [at]


Through May 2020, this program has collected over 67 tons of organic waste since it began in 2016.

Figure at right shows estimate of program results for 2019 by Black Bear Composting. Click here for full report.


The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley partners with the Harrisonburg Farmers Market and Black Bear Composting to offer a Saturday Market compost drop-off station April through October in addition to having drop-off bins available 24/7 within site of Turner Pavilion. (Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is precluding our presence at the Market in 2020, but the community drop-off bins continue to be available at all times.)

Accepted items:

  • all food-related discards including meat, bones, and dairy products.
  • soiled paper and cardboard including pizza boxes, waxed paper, tissue paper. Note from Black Bear Composting: Clean paper and cardboard products should be recycled as paper whenever possible. However, food-soiled paper-based products can’t be recycled as paper, but can be recycled by composting.
  • BPI.label.600compostable plastic. Note from Black Bear Composting: The only compostable plastics we will accept are those clearly marked with the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) Compostable Product logo shown here. This certifies that the product completely biodegrades in a commercial-scale composting environment.
  • tea bags, tissues, toothpicks … find our comprehensive list here!


Unacceptable items:

  • Plastic coated paper which includes most paper cups and many paper plates
  • Pet wastes. Although these can be composted at Black Bear Composting, we cannot currently accommodate them through the community drop-off station.
  • Latex and rubber items. Although both are organic in their pure form, most things made from them have additives that prevent their decomposition. This includes chewing gum and rubber bands.
  • Stickers from fruit and vegetables … please remove these from your peelings
  • Treated wood items
  • Baby wipes
  • Dryer sheets
  • Woven fabrics, even if made from plant-based fibers. The threads are usually chemically treated to be resistant to breaking down.
  • Receipt paper. Receipts are almost all coated with BPA or similar chemicals that should not get in our soils.
  • Microwave popcorn bags. These are heavily lined with the water and grease resistance-providing chemicals, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), which should not get in our soils. More from Wikipedia on this here.
  • Disposable diapers. Even if labelled “compostable” we cannot accept them at the community drop-off. Subscribe directly to Black Bear Composting’s pickup service to have them composted.
  • Yard wastes. These are compostable but beyond the capacity of our drop-off program. Harrisonburg City accepts yard wastes at the Beery Rd Recycling Convenience Center.

Questions? Please contact hburgcomposts [at]

Why are we doing this?

compostinthenewsWhat’s not to love about composting? It is the ultimate trash to treasure story whose benefits include:

  • curbing landfill growth; organic wastes are estimated to make up 30% by weight of household trash.
  • reducing the amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, leaking from landfills (more here) (methane capture is notoriously inefficient)
  • improving stormwater runoff quality from compost-amended soils
  • reducing fossil fuel use from trash haulers (more here)
  • returning nutrients to soils instead of sequestering them in landfills
  • in Harrisonburg all residential trash used to be mixed and hauled 65 miles to then have recyclables removed from the contaminated mix. Separating out organic trash had the added benefit of a cleaner, more viable recyclable stream. This type of model of recycling led to the collapse of the recyclables buyer market due to untenable contamination.

As we all know, “compost happpens,” so it does not take much work but does require space and willingness; and even so, backyard composting cannot generally accommodate animal products like meat, bones, grease, and dairy products, and compostable plastics.

BlackBearGoogleMapSnipThat’s where Black Bear Composting and its industrial composting facility in Crimora becomes a valuable local resource for waste-to-treasure generation. Large scale composting with frequent turning creates the high heat necessary to safely decompose animal products, compostable plastics and even pet wastes.

Black Bear Composting offers regular residential curbside pickup services in Charlottesville, Staunton, Waynesboro and Harrisonburg and contracts with schools and other facilities with food services, like the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, to pick up organic wastes. In 2015, they partnered with the City of Charlottesville for a pilot market compost drop-off program. CAAV was inspired by this program to try a version of this in Harrisonburg for 2016. Both programs have become ongoing.

Volunteers needed!

We are looking for people passionate about composting to help staff the compost drop-off station at the Harrisonburg Farmers Markets April-October. Help spread the word about this program, share the wonders of composting and see the amazing reaction you get when people learn how much of their waste is compostable.

Adapted from infographic provided by

Contact Adrie at hburgcomposts [at] to sign up for a two hour Saturday Market shift.

Many thanks to the Headwaters Master Naturalists who have approved this project for volunteer service hours!

Donations accepted!

Monetary contributions towards the costs of Black Bear Composting services for this project are greatly appreciated. Donations can be brought to the Compost Drop-off Station at the Saturday Markets April-October, or sent to:

Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV)
c/o 745 S Dogwood Dr, Harrisonburg, VA 22801

Donations are currently not tax deductible.

Many thanks to Keep Virginia Beautiful which awarded this project a 30 in Thirty grant of $500 in the Recycling category on June 4, 2016.

Backyard Composting Resources Here


About Vermiculture (Worm Composting) Here

Curbside Pickup Services for Compostables

As of early 2019, Harrisonburg residents and businesses have the choice of two curbside pickup services!


Update Jan 2020: Soil Cycles is transitioning from being a curbside pick up service to developing a larger role in local advocacy for zero-waste initiatives!

New Harrisonburg non-profit startup Soil Cycles, ” … is a bicycle powered compostable waste hauling service that aims to divert valuable organic matter from the waste stream by re-circulating this precious resource via compost to local farms and gardens. We collect kitchen scraps and compostable items from residential buildings, restaurants and other businesses!” They also work with Black Bear Composting and in most cases can accept certified compostable plastics and their derivatives. Rewards program and finished compost offered with this service! Details HERE.

logoBlack Bear Composting‘s services include curbside pickup programs over a valley-wide area and includes deliveries of finished compost. More HERE.

Black Bear Composting Tour of the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, Headwaters Master Naturalists, and volunteers with the Market Compost Drop-off station enjoyed a tour of Black Bear Composting in Crimora on Thursday, June 9, 2016. Photos and more about the trip HERE!