Not Easy Being Green Part 5: What's Your Town's Residential Diversion Rate?

Not Easy Being Green Part 5: What’s Your Town’s Residential Diversion Rate?

  • Editor’s Note: This article is the last in a five-part series of “Not Easy Being Green” stories written by Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Got a question? Contact Jarland at 630-208-3841 or

Caring for the planet is like anything that is important to the community as a whole: We all have to do our part.

I will once again stress that waste minimization should be at the forefront of your thoughts on the topic of trash and recycling. All of my regular Q&A recycling tip articles and the recent series on the bigger picture of the recycling industry (see links below) are meant as a guide to help you all ReThink, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle right — in that order.

If one of the tips inform you that something is not recyclable, do not become discouraged! THINK! Think about how you might avoid creating that waste by becoming more discerning about your purchases. Support companies that manufacture products and packaging that are repairable, reusable, and recyclable at end of use.

Diversion Rates

You may recall from Part 4 of this series that Waste Diversion, or landfill diversion, is generally defined as the process of diverting waste from landfills through recycling and composting. A diversion rate means the percentage of material being diverted from landfill disposal.

Kane County residential diversion rates, at an average of 37 percent in 2017, are well above the national average of 25 percent.

That average does not provide a full picture, because many of the most populated cities in Kane are at somewhere between 37 percent to 41 percent, and Burlington has the advantage of being at the top of the diversion cart, likely due to their size on the other end of the spectrum.

Here is a breakdown of the municipalities in Kane and where you are with your diversion rates. Food for thought.

Municipality — Diversion %

  1. Burlington — 62%
  2. Algonquin 41%
  3. Huntley / Sun City — 41%
  4. South Elgin — 41%
  5. Batavia — 41%
  6. Gilberts — 40%
  7. St. Charles — 40%
  8. Hampshire — 40%
  9. Aurora — 39%
  10. North Aurora — 39%
  11. East Dundee — 39%
  12. Maple Park — 38%
  13. Geneva — 38%
  14. Elgin — 37%
  15. Mill Creek — 37%
  16. Elgin Township — 35%
  17. West Dundee — 35%
  18. Carpentersville — 33%
  19. Campton Township — 32%
  20. Elburn — 29%
  21. Pingree Grove — 29%
  22. Virgil Township — 26%
  23. Kaneville — 20%
  24. Big Rock — 20%

If your town or township is not on the list above, it is because your waste and recycling service provider changed in 2017, and so did the diversion rates. Interestingly the diversion rates all improved!

My guess is that more recycling carts were distributed as a result of the switch, making it easier for people to recycle.

Here’s some of that additional 2017 information:

Municipality — Diversion %

  • Montgomery (early 2017) — 37%
  • Montgomery (late 2017) — 41%
  • Plato Township (early 2017) — 24%
  • Plato Township (late 2017) — 28%
  • Sugar Grove (early 2017) — 14%
  • Sugar Grove (late 2017) — 39%

As I collected the 2017 tonnage reports from Haulers this January, as I do every year, I did a little number crunching. This entailed weight to volume conversions and some creative framework on the amount of recycling collected from Kane County residents in 2017. Check this out!

The volume of recycling collected from residents in Kane County in 2017, if loaded into 40-foot freight train containers, would fill a train that would stretch nearly 100 miles along the tracks.

Here’s the breakdown of what was collected at the curbs throughout the county.

The Diversion Train

Diversion Train

Last year, Kane County residents recycled 62,511 tons of single stream recyclable materials which is equal to a 97-mile-long train loaded with full 40-foot shipping containers.

Organic Train

In addition to that, Kane County residents composted 23,102 tons of landscape and yard waste and organic materials, enough to fill a 36-mile-long train of 40-foot shipping containers.

That means that the whole Diversion Train would be 133 miles long! Toot that horn!

The Landfill Train

Trash Train

On the flip side of that impressive image there is the Trash Train.

Kane County Residents threw away 145,286 tons of garbage at the curb that ended up in landfills.

And that train, my friends, is a whopping 225-mile-long train. Yikes!

Aaaall Aboooooard!

Wow, so a train that stretches 358 miles would hold all of the material collected at the curb from all the households in Kane County in a year. And this number does not even include the electronics recycling, or any other materials you may discard through thrift store donations, construction waste, and other drop-off type disposal options.

Let’s all get aboard the train to a future where we purchase less and discard less.

Aim for Zero Waste with commitments to things like paperless-billing, refillable water bottles, books on Kindle, reusable food containers and washable service ware (no disposables)!

Where we repair broken things, mend clothes, embrace pre-loved clothing, and share garden tools with neighbors. Where we are better at recycling, making it easier for the sorting facilities to separate and bulk the materials to be sent off for re-manufacturing, and where less recyclable material ends up heading down the rails to the landfills.

I can see it! Can you?

Read The Series