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Patience Melnik
Waste and Resources Manager
[email protected]
Makenzie Read
Waste and Resources Coordinator
[email protected]


BattleField Farms, City Possum Farm, and the City of Knoxville's Waste & Resources Management office with support from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation launched the Knoxville Compost Pilot Project in February 2022. Residents and nearby restaurants can now drop off their food scraps to be composted and repurposed into soil.
Compost sponsor logos

Before dropping off your food scraps, please review the Yes/No list below and then take the quiz to test your knowledge! Upon successfully completing the quiz, you will receive a code. You will need this code to unlock the combination padlocks on the food scraps bins; please save it for future reference.

The Old City Recycling Drop-Off Center
227 Willow Ave, underneath the interstate
Attended daily from 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.



• Fruits
• Vegetables
• Coffee Grounds
• Paper Coffee Filters
• Eggshells
• Nut Shells
Located at the
Old City Recycling Center:
227 Willow Ave.
Compost bucket

• Cooked Food
• Oils, Fats, Grease
• Meat, Seafood, Bones
• Dairy (Cheese, Butter, Yogurt, Mayo, etc.)
• Bread, Rice, Grains
• Leaves or Brush
• "Compostable" Bags, Cups, Bowls, Utensils, Bioplastics, etc.
• Anything Plastic (Produce Stickers, Bags, Styrofoam, etc.)
• Animal Waste / Litter
• Charcoal
• Tea Bags

Click here to take compost quiz

You can collect your food scraps in any lidded container placed on your kitchen countertop or underneath your sink. If you prefer to make less frequent trips to the drop-off site, store your scraps in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent odors.

If you are producing a lot of food waste, an inexpensive 5-gallon bucket with a sealing lid placed on a porch, in a garage, or near your outdoor trash will keep pests out and smells in.

A printed copy of the Yes/No list on your fridge will help you and your family remember which food scraps are accepted.

Setting a weekly alert on your phone can help remind you to take your food scraps to the drop-off before they're too fragrant. 


Where will the food scraps that I drop off go?

Every Monday, the Waste and Resources Americorps team will transport the food scraps collected at the Old City recycling drop-off center to BattleField Farms. There, they will be added to a solar-powered Aerated Static Pile (ASP) composter paid for by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and designed and built by City Possum Farm. After several weeks in the composter, the food scraps will break down into rich soil that will help BattleField Farm grow food to support the Knoxville community.

Why do I have to take a quiz to access the drop off bins?

Avoiding contamination is critical to the success of this pilot project. The quiz ensures that participants carefully review which food scraps are accepted in the drop-off bins. Proper use of the drop-off bins will allow this pilot project to continue and perhaps expand in the future. Please do not share the combination padlock code.

What is compost? 

Compost is created when organic materials such as food waste and plant matter undergo decomposition. A successful compost system is achieved by the right combination of moisture, oxygen, temperature, and organic materials (carbon/"browns" and nitrogen/"greens"). When these conditions are properly balanced, soil microbes can efficiently decompose organic material and reach a temperature high enough to kill unwanted pathogens and bacteria -- resulting in a healthy, nutrient-rich compost. This compost is then used to help grow healthy vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants.

Why compost? 

Since most food waste decomposes easily under the right conditions, placing it in a landfill is an unnecessary waste of space and money. More importantly, food waste that breaks down without oxygen ("anaerobically") in a landfill produces methane, a very powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. When food scraps are diverted from the landfill and used to make compost, however, greenhouse gases are minimized and the food scraps' nutrients can enrich the soil and produce healthy food.

Why can't I drop off ALL of my food scraps and organic materials?

Food scraps like meat, cheese, bread, oils/fats, and cooked foods can be successfully composted at industrial composting facilities, which produce a lot of heat and break down materials very efficiently. The Knoxville Compost Pilot Project, however, follows a community composting model, which operates at a much smaller scale than an industrial composting facility. Limiting the types of accepted food waste ensures they will break down quickly and won't produce nuisance smells that might attract rodents and make management of the compost challenging for the farmers.

What are my other options for composting and how can I learn more?

Do you have a backyard? Backyard composting is the most sustainable way to compost because it doesn't require any transportation, plus it produces a rich soil amendment to use in your garden. On-site residential compost bins for personal use are allowed in all districts if they comply with these instructions. Visit the Backyard Compost page for more guidance.

Don’t have much backyard space or live in an apartment? Check out these Vermicomposting instructions.

Don't have time to drop off your food scraps and prefer not to manage a compost pile? Green Heron is a locally operated, female-owned subscription-based service that picks up your food scraps for a fee and composts them at area farms.

The University of Tennessee Compost Facility is a collection and research site for food waste and organic material managed by the UT Office of Sustainability. The Compost Facility offers educational tours and information available to anyone who is interested in learning about the composting process first-hand. However, this facility only accepts materials produced by the University and does not accept materials from the public. 


UT Knox County Extension Office 

UT Gardens - Resources & Occasional Composting Classes 

UT Master Gardeners - Organic Gardening & Compost 

Keep Knoxville Beautiful - Composting: Heaps of Fun 

Ijams - Living Clean & Green Compost Diagram 

Borderland Tees' Butterfly Garden 

Beardsley Farm & CSA 

Living Earth - Compost & Soils 

Hines Fine Soils - Compost & Soils 

ShareWaste - Compost Connection Service