Placing a banana in a compost bin

Approximately 40 percent of the food purchased in the U.S. is thrown away. Composting is the best way to manage food waste.

When food waste is collected and mixed with other organic matter, it will decompose naturally into a rich humus. This very rich humus can be used for landscaping and gardening projects at your home or in your neighborhood.  Approximately 25 percent of the waste stream is made up or organic waste that can be composted at home. 

It is easy to compost.  We can help you learn to compost at home, at church, school or work.  Training will include what can be composted and how you can set up a spot to compost.  If you would like compost, fill out the contact form on our website.  Interested residents will be provided with information on how to track the food waste so it can be reported to benefit the county.  Each county in Tennessee is required to divert a minimum of 25 percent of the waste stream from a Class 1 landfill, and volunteer composting will help the county achieve those goals. Tonnages composted will be reported on their Annual Progress Report that is required by the State of Tennessee.

Organics make up approximately one-fourth of the waste stream. Diverting organics from the waste stream will decrease the amount of tipping fees our county pays to the Rhea County Class I Landfill. It will decrease the amount the county spends to transport the food waste to the landfill and will also provide a product that can beautify our community through landscaping. And, more importantly, it will decrease the amount of methane gas that is released when the food waste decomposes at the landfill. Food that is disposed of in a landfill is compressed, and once oxygen is not available to help organics decompose, they decompose anaerobically (without oxygen). Methane gas is formed as a byproduct of anaerobic decomposition, and this methane contributes to global warming. Composting food waste is environmentally friendly because it allows food to decomposes naturally without releasing methane gas. Landfills are the third largest emitter of methane because of the food waste contained in the garbage, contributing to global warming.


Reports vary about how much food each person throws away annually. The EPA reports that each person throws away approximately 189.9 pounds of food waste annually, while other reports suggest this number is at least twice as much. Approximately 40 percent of the food that is grown in the U.S. is thrown away. Growing food in the U.S. uses 50 percent of available land, 10 percent of the energy expended and 80 percent of the fresh water that is consumed annually.