Community Compost Drop-off

Compost your household kitchen scraps through 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.

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Learn about the wildlife composting artwork by Erin Murray here.

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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. 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.


This program runs on donations. Any amount is appreciated!


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!
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Click on the image above for a larger version of the poster.

Questions? Contact Adrie at hburgcomposts [at] gmail.com


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Through December 2020, this program has collected close to 85 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.


This program runs on donations. Any amount is appreciated!


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] gmail.com


Why compost?

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What’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

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.

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That’s why Black Bear Composting and its industrial composting facility in Crimora is 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. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Harrisonburg Farmers Market outreach and collection programs are currently suspended.

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Adapted from infographic provided by ilsr.org

Donations accepted!

Monetary contributions towards the costs of Black Bear Composting services for this project are greatly appreciated.

Donate online by clicking this button:

Donations can also be mailed to:

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

Donations are currently not tax deductible.


Backyard Composting Resources Here

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About Vermiculture (Worm Composting) Here


Curbside Pickup Service for Compostables

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Black Bear Composting offers curbside compostables pickup programs over a valley-wide area that include deliveries of finished compost. Learn more about this service and how to subscribe HERE.


Black Bear Composting Tour

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Members of the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley and Headwaters Master Naturalists enjoyed a tour of Black Bear Composting in Crimora on Thursday, June 9, 2016. Photos and more about the trip HERE!