Composting in Philadelphia

Have you ever thought about how much of your trash is food waste? If you’re like most Philadelphians, it’s probably a lot. This trash costs Philadelphia taxpayers money and contributes to climate change. Composting organic materials (like food scraps and yard waste) is a great way to keep organic waste out of landfills, and it also creates material that can be added to soil to help plants grow.

Interested in composting as a Philadelphia resident? There are several options, including composting at home, using a compost collection service, or bringing your compost to a community drop-off site.

Compost at Home

One option is to compost your food waste right in your own yard. Visit our Backyard Composting 101 Guide to learn how to set up a home composting system.

Community Compost Network

Community composting happens when neighbors bring together their food and yard waste to make new soil locally in their neighborhoods. Community composting can serve residents typically for free or low cost, and this community-based effort fosters a culture of environmental and social well being in the city. The City of Philadelphia’s Greenworks Sustainability Plan and Zero Waste and Litter Action Plan call for expanded opportunities for residents to compost organic waste. To support Philadelphia residents in becoming more aware and engaged in local composting efforts, the City of Philadelphia is developing a Community Compost Network. The Network will include urban agriculture/community garden/recreation/school sites throughout the city, where community-scale composting systems are bring installed in winter-spring of 2020. The initial composting site application closed in the summer of 2019, but the City will be looking to expand the network in the future. Learn about the project here or email questions to

Use a Compost Collection Service

If you have limited outdoor space, using a compost collection service could be a great option for you. There are several companies that offer residential compost collection service in Philadelphia. Visit our list of local compost haulers (click the “Food Waste” link) to find a compost hauler that suits your needs.

Leaf & Yard Waste Drop-off Sites

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center and the Streets Department’s sanitation convenience centers allow Philadelphia residents to drop off organic materials for composting. The Streets Department’s six sanitation convenience centers accept yard waste, which must be free of contamination and contained in paper bags only. Learn more and see a list of Sanitation Convenience Center locations.

At the Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center, residents and commercial businesses can drop off materials for a tipping fee. Accepted materials:

  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Brush
  • Herbivore manure
  • Wood chips
The Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center
3850 Ford Rd.
Philadelphia, PA 19131

City residents and businesses can also pick up screened leaf compost, mulch, and wood chips from the Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center. Learn more about dropping off materials at the Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center here, and learn more about picking up materials from the Center here. Learn how to use compost you get from the Organic Recycling Center here.

Tips for Reducing Food Waste

There are many small steps you can take to reduce the amount of food you waste at home. Check out these resources for helpful tips:

EPA’s Tips for Reducing Wasted Food At Home

UN Environment’s Top Tips for Reducing Food Waste

Urban Composting Pilot Project

The Zero Waste & Litter Cabinet is working with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and PA Recycling Markets Center to create a demonstration project for the state’s first urban composting permit. The site will serve as a public-private partnership model where a third party composting company will operate a composting business at the selected City-owned site. A vendor is currently being chosen to operate the site, which will be located at 5650 Rising Sun Avenue.

 Photo by University City District™

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