Another Halloween has come and gone, but the jack-o’-lantern that may be sitting on your stoop isn’t going to get rid of itself.
Instead of trashing the carved-up squash, the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services is encouraging residents to compost with its annual “PumpkinPalooza” services.
“Repurposing them in this manner is more environmentally friendly than throwing them away,” DPWES said in a press release announcing the event.
The county is accepting pumpkins for composting through Nov. 17 at its I-95 Landfill Complex (9850 Furnace Road) in Lorton and the I-66 Transfer Station (4618 West Ox Road) near Fair Lakes.
Pumpkins can be dropped off at both facilities between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
“All pumpkins and squash must be free of all decorations, such as paint, glitter and candle wax,” DPWES said. “Those items cannot be composted.”
The county officially introduced its compost outpost for food scraps at the I-66 disposal facility in April after a two-year pilot to demonstrate its effectiveness.
The Fairfax County Park Authority has also added composting drop-offs at all of its farmers markets, though the Wakefield and Kingstowne markets have already ended their seasons. The park authority collected nearly 37 tons of compost last year, when the service launched at five markets before expanding to all sites for 2023.
Fairfax County wants your food scraps and yard waste.
The county will officially launch its new compost outpost at the I-66 Transfer Station (4618 West Ox Road) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday).
Part of a two-year-long pilot program, the facility consists of two 20-foot-long shipping containers modified so that visitors can drop off organic waste in the dirt-filled receptacles.
“It is designed to create optimal conditions for composting and is a test facility to demonstrate small-scale, decentralized, organics processing,” the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) said in a media advisory.
The pilot will expand the county’s efforts to promote composting, which makes soil healthier by returning nutrients to the earth, reducing erosion and improving its ability to hold water, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension.
The county has also been accepting food scraps for composting at the I-95 Landfill Complex (9850 Furnace Road) in Lorton and at some farmers markets, though the 2023 season isn’t set to begin until later this month.
The I-66 outpost will process food scraps and yard waste from residents and county facilities, though residents must drop off their collections directly.
“We will not be picking them up for this program,” DPWES spokesperson Sharon North said.
The resulting compost is expected to be initially used at county parks, according to North.
The pilot will help the county determine the facility’s effectiveness and provide a visible demonstration of “the ability…to take a waste product and turn it into a locally sourced and readily available resource that can be used to enhance the community,” said Matt Adams, director of the Solid Waste Management Program in the DPWES Engineering and Environmental Compliance Division.
“The Compost Outpost pilot demonstrates this by utilizing sustainable materials, such as plant material and food scraps that are currently treated as a waste products to be removed from the community, and transforming them into compost that can be used locally,” Adams said in a statement to FFXnow. “This greatly benefits the environment and the county’s overall sustainability goals by lowering emissions through the reduction [of] transportation/processing practices and adds to the resources available within a community.”
Here’s more on the pilot from DPWES:
The two-year pilot was approved by the Department of Environmental Quality and aligns with the county’s Zero Waste Policy by diverting food waste and other organics from municipal waste streams.
Over the course, the operational impacts, as well as the production of the finished compost will be assessed to determine the project’s feasibility and efficacy.
The Compost Outpost pilot will cost approximately $100,000. It is funded by the county’s Zero Waste Team and hosted by the Solid Waste Management Program and its partner, Compost Crew.
More information on the materials accepted for composting can be found on the DPWES website.
Spring is here, and that means Fairfax County’s farmers markets are starting back up.
Several of the seasonal markets now accept food scraps for compost, including a new site coming to Kingstowne next week.
The market, which runs from 3-7 p.m. Fridays at Kingstowne Center, starting May 6, is one of five farmers markets in the county’s pilot program. The other four markets introduced the option last year, extending composting options at the I-95 Landfill Complex and I-66 Transfer Station.
With Earth Day in the rearview mirror and community advocates stressing the need for the county to step up its environmental initiatives, FFXnow is curious if you have or plan on utilizing the farmers market composting pilot program, even if it plays a small part in addressing the overall issues facing the planet.
A local effort to divert food from landfills, thanks to composting, is expanding.
Fairfax County is adding another farmers market, this one in Kingstowne, to its list of locations where people can drop off unused food for reuse.
People can drop off the food scraps during the farmers market hours, which for Kingstowne takes place 3 to 7 p.m. Fridays starting May 6.
Other farmers markets and sites that also allow for composting drop-offs include:
- Burke — 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays beginning this weekend (April 16)
- Herndon — from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursdays as of April 28,
- Mount Vernon — from 8 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays starting next week (April 20)
- Mosaic District — from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays year round
- The I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex — between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day of the week.
Fairfax County said in a news release yesterday (Wednesday) that the pilot program diverted 22 tons of food scraps last year. According to the county, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions eliminated by the effort was equivalent to taking 50 cars off the road.
In another area of growth for farmers markets, more vendors are also slated to participate this year as the seasonal staples return across the region.