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Compost is defined by the US Composting Council as “the product resulting from the controlled decomposition of organic material that has been sanitized through the generation of heat and stabilized to the point that it is beneficial to plant growth.”

Uses and benefits of compost:

  • Improves the soil structure, porosity, and density, thus creating a better plant root environment.
  • Increases infiltration and permeability of heavy soils, thus reducing erosion and runoff.
  • Improves water holding capacity, thus reducing water loss and leaching in sandy soils.
  • Supplies a variety of macro and micronutrients.
  • May control or suppress certain soil-borne plant pathogens.
  • Supplies significant quantities of organic matter.
  • Improves cation exchange capacity (CEC) of soils and growing media, thus improving their ability to hold nutrients for plant use.
  • Supplies beneficial microorganisms to soils and growing media.
  • Improves and stabilizes soil pH.
  • Can bind and degrade specific pollutants.
Finished compost at Brooks Compost Facility
Finished compost at Brooks Compost Facility
Waste audits indicate that compostable materials are the largest part of the campus waste stream. These include food waste, food-soiled paper, compostable bio-plastics (PLA), and other organic materials, such as plant waste. Carolina Dining Services and the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling are exploring options to build on the success of the current program in order to capture more compostable materials. Compostable materials from UNC-Chapel Hill are picked up by Compost Now and undergo the composting process at Brooks, a local industrial composting facility. Brooks can manage large amounts and varieties of organic material to turn into compost.

Composting Guidelines

What CAN be composted:

  • ALL food waste and table scraps
  • Soiled paper products (i.e. napkins, paper towels)
  • Compostable packaging (i.e. most to-go boxes from the Bottom of Lenoir)
  • Tea and coffee grounds, filters
  • Hair and nail trimmings

What CANNOT be composted:

  • Plastic, including bags and plastic flatware
  • Metal, including foil
  • Glass
  • Styrofoam
  • Rubber, latex
  • Chemicals
  • Stickers
Triple Waste Bin with Compost on the Right
Triple Waste Bin with Compost on the Right
Carolina Dining Services offers compost collection in the following locations:

  • Chase Dining Hall
  • Lenoir Dining Hall
  • Beach Café
  • Alpine Bagel Café
  • Wendy’s
  • Friday Center
Residents in many on-campus communities can check out a small compost bin for personal use and then empty their food scraps into their community’s outdoor collection cart.

Residence Hall Composting


Food waste collection services is not available for individual offices.

Individuals who wish to compost may collect fruit and vegetable scraps and bring them to the Carolina Community Garden located on Wilson Street. The compost generated is used onsite for the garden. Produce grown in the garden is donated to the University’s lower wage workers.