Recycling Tip: Does Your Town Have Food Scrap Composting? Do You Compost? If Not, This Week Is a Good Time To Start

Recycling Tip: Does Your Town Have Food Scrap Composting? Do You Compost? If Not, This Week Is a Good Time To Start

  • Editor’s Note: This recycling tips article was written by Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Got a question or idea for a recycling tip? Contact Jarland at 630-208-3841 or

Full disclosure – I am the chairman of the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition Board as well as the recycling program coordinator for Kane County.

I am as swollen as the seeds in your gardens right now — with appreciation for all of the work that this coalition has accomplished in the last nine years to foster the growth and sustainability of the composting industry in Illinois through connecting stakeholders, providing education and resources, by being active in the community and implementing programs, and by focusing on strengthening the market for finished compost.

This week (May 2 through May 8) is International Compost Awareness Week.

As with all awareness-based holidays, the hope is that the messages are amplified for a week in order to throw a broader net of understanding out there. Though for stakeholders involved with the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition — community and government organizations, businesses, schools, institutions, service providers, compost processors, and individuals — every week revolves around Compost Awareness.

Check Out The IFSC Online Ed Series!

Did you miss the IFSC online educational series conducted in celebration of International Compost Awareness Week?

We let you know about the ICAW lunch and learn webinar series being put on by the Illinois food Scrap Coalition last week. But if you didn’t get a chance to join us or missed a day or two, I have good news! You can view all of the sessions on the IFSC YouTube channel.

The theme for the International Compost Awareness Week in 2021 is “Grow, Eat, Compost, Repeat.”

Each day of the week we dug into one element of this cycle, starting on Monday, May 3, with GROW (Growing food, growing markets, growing knowledge, growing nutrient-rich soil). We planted seeds … in the (compost amended) soil, seeds that will become an abundant garden of understanding, interconnection, fruition, and harvest.

Tuesday’s guest speakers cooked up a buffet of topics that included EATing, sharing and preparing the food. Food that is life. Food that is medicine. Food that deserves to be respected and appreciated – not wasted.

Wednesday’s speakers focused on the name of the game — COMPOST! Feeding the pile of knowledge, and stirring up our interest and passion for recycling our food scraps through various means, in a variety of settings.

Thursday’s theme, REPEAT, led us into a discussion on completing the circle by rescuing  food scraps and other organic material from a fate in the landfill and instead turning it into a nutrient-rich soil amendment that will be returned to the earth in which we grow our food.

Finally, on Friday, a panel of Compost experts joined attendees to open up the discussion.

If you are interested in the topic of composting — from how to do it, to why we do it, to how to get involved on a more meaningful level, check out the recordings, and visit the IFSC website.

More Resources

Food Scrap Composting in Kane County​

Food makes up the largest percentage (over 20%) of all residential trash. In 2011 alone, more than 36 million tons of food waste were​ generated, with only four percent diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting.

Residential Food Scrap Composting

On the residential side, there are more than 60​​ curbside collection programs for food scrap in the region. In Kane County, the following communities have residential curbside food scrap composting services.

​The most common model is called a “ride-along” program because the food scraps ride along with the yard waste to the composting facilities. Click this link for a great info sheet on the ride-along program guidelines. Some programs, like the one in Elgin, are subscription-based programs for separate residential collection of organic waste.

If you know of additional locations that are composting food scraps, ​contact your Kane County Recycling Coordinator, at 630-208-3841 or​

Commercial Food Scrap Composting

While there are a growing number of municipal residential food scrap collection programs across the U.S. (approx. 350 communities) many regions are initially focusing on large-volume commercial sources for this material. Businesses (larger food scrap producers like groceries, restaurants) are a logical place to start to build the infrastructure for a voluntary program.

There are several locations in Kane County already participating. To see the map of locations in Kane County that are composting, see here. DuPage County has achieved such success by concentrating on the commercial sector targeting the big producers and increasing route density for the haulers.

Illinois Food Scrap Coalition

Your Kane County recycling coordinator is chairman of the Board of the ​Illinois Food Scrap Coalition, a thriving not-for-profit organization made up of community and government organizations, businesses, schools, institutions, service proividers and processors throughout the state that are dedicated to advancing food scrap composting in Illinois through program implementation, policy, and advocacy.

Please see more on the​ work this group is doing, at

On State Legislation

Public Act 96-0418 (effective 1/1/2010) was passed by the Illinois legislature in 2009, making it possible to add food scrap to a yard waste composting operation in Illinois without going through the state’s lengthy and expensive siting process, provided that the food scraps constitute no more than 10% of the total volume handled at the facility.

To date, 10 of the 45 active compost facilities in Illinois are now permitted to accept food scrap along with yard waste.

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