Compost

Waste and Resources Manager

Patience Melnik
pmelnik@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-4311

400 Main St.
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Makenzie Read
Waste and Resources Coordinator
mread@knoxvilletn.gov
865-215-2817

MAKE COMPOST, DIVERT ORGANIC WASTE

compostSince most food and yard waste are easily degradable under the correct conditions, placing them in a landfill unnecessarily wastes space and money. Compost enriches soils chemically and structurally, serving to improve lawns, gardens, and flower beds. Although the City of Knoxville does not currently offer a curbside composting program, there are ways to turn organic waste into rich compost at home. 


What is compost? 

Compost is a mixture of residues from organic materials that have undergone decomposition. 

Do you have your own backyard? 

Personal use, on-site compost bins are allowed in all districts and shall comply with the following  City Ordinance 

Do you have limited living space without a yard? 

Consider reaching out to a private composting business, local farm or community garden to see if they will take waste material. Composting with worms, vermicompost, can also be ideal for small spaces. 

What can I compost? 

Include materials such as: fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, flowers, leaf and brush material, small branches, wood chips, straw, grass clippings, shredded non-glossy paper and cardboard.

Avoid materials such as: meat, seafood, cheese, fatty foods, plants with pests and disease, anything with plastic or polymers, and dog, cat, and human manure.

How do I compost? 

Backyard Compost Directions 

Vermicompost Directions 

When is the compost ready and how do I use it? 

Ultimately, when the waste looks like crumbly, dark humus and you can no longer recognize what the original materials were, your compost is ready! To use your compost, strive to use a ratio of 5% compost to soil.  Compost can be directly incorporated into soil or applied to the surface for soil building benefits.

How should I collect items for composting?

A kitchen-approved food scrap bin can be any size, sealable container placed somewhere accessible such as the countertop, underneath the sink, in the refrigerator or freezer.

If you’re producing a lot of food waste, or collecting food scraps for an off-site compost heap, an inexpensive 5 gallon bucket with a sealing lid placed on a porch or near your outdoor trash is an ideal option to keep pests out and smells in. 

For leaf, brush, and other yard debris, simply pile these materials near your compost or set them loose and un-bagged at your curbside for disposal through the City's  Yard Waste Collection . On average more than 26,000 tons of loosely piled yard waste in Knoxville is sent to be turned into mulch and diverted from the landfill annually. Composting yard and food waste not only diverts valuable resources from the landfill, but also saves tax payer dollars. 


Knoxville Area Resources and Other Compost Authorities

 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 

 Green Heron - Compost Service 

 ShareWaste - Compost Connection Service