Hey, Jennifer Jarland! How Can I Recycle My Food Scraps?

Hey, Jennifer Jarland! How Can I Recycle My Food Scraps?

This week’s question might have been a perfect setup for Roseanne Roseannadanna, perhaps posed by Richard Feder of Fort Lee, New Jersey, but we’re sure the answer will be many times more appealing when it comes from our intrepid Kane County recycling coordinator:

Hey, Jennifer Jarland! How can I recycle my food scraps instead of wasting them?

Jennifer says …

Glad you asked! Coincidentally, May 3 through May 9 is International Compost Awareness Week! So now is the time to get started composting!

Food scraps and yard waste make up 20 percent to 30 percent of the waste stream, but all organic materials are highly recyclable! Food scraps are full of nutrients that can be best recycled by returning them to the soil by  composting. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills, where they take up precious space and release methane, a greenhouse more potent than carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.

It also benefits your garden by improving soil structure, increasing the soil’s ability to hold both water and air, improving soil fertility, and stimulating healthy root development in plants. Adding compost to your garden can reduce or eliminate the need to buy chemical fertilizers or compost. If you pay for yard waste collection bags or stickers, composting will cut your costs.

Making compost is easy. You can buy or build a backyard compost bin and start recycling food scraps, leaves, grass, and other leafy yard trimmings. You just need the bin, the space, and some dry or brown ingredients to add to the food scraps. See this great online Backyard Composting guide produced by the EPA for a simple how-to explanation.

Soil Saver.

Soil Saver.

Kane County provides affordable Soil Saver Compost bins at the subsidized price of $60 each, at the University of Illinois Extension Office at 535 S. Randall Road in St. Charles. These bins are made from 100 percent recycled plastic, last for more than 20 years, have a lock down top for wind and critters, and are easy to use due to the square open top.

There is a lot happening on a state level to promote commercial composting collection programs, for restaurants, institutions, and grocery stores. All of the commercial participation leads to an increase in infrastructure which will eventually enable residential collection programs for this material.

For more information on the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition and the work they are doing, see www.illinoiscomposts.org.

And even more information can be found on this composting page of the Kane County Recycles website.

Got More Questions?

Contact Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland at 630-208-3841 or recycle@countyofkane.org

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Kane County Board member Don Ishmael, and his daughters, Faith (13) and Ziva (4), composting in their back yard.