CPS expands composting program — but slowly
Chicago Public Schools could nearly double the number of schools that compost their food waste this school year.
- The district plans to add 10 more schools to the 14 that already compost—diverting nearly a ton of waste from the landfill each day.
Why it matters: Food waste that isn't composted and goes to landfills creates methane, a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than CO2 when it comes to driving near-term climate change.
- The Environmental Defense Fund calls methane reduction the "fastest opportunity we have to immediately slow the rate of global warming."
How it works: An environmental group called Seven Generations Ahead trains students and staff to separate organic waste (food and compostable trays) from recyclables, liquid and trash to be sent to local composting facilities.
- Participating elementary schools: Hamilton, McAuliffe, Bell, Waters, Mitchell, Peterson, Von Linne, Suder and Sandoval.
- Middle and high schools: Southside Occupational, Solorio Academy, Marine Leadership Academy, Northside College Prep and Hernandez.
Yes but: Nearly 500 district-run schools are not yet composting.
- Based on current waste figures, that's likely sending 35 tons of organic waste to the landfill every day.
- Since 2016, CPS has buying compostable food trays, hundreds of thousands of which are sent to the landfill each week instead of being composted.
What they're saying: "The District aims to meet our goal of diverting 80% or more of all cafeteria/kitchen waste from landfills through commercial composting, recycling, liquid diversion, and food recovery by 2025," CPS spokesperson Mary Ann Fergus tells Axios.
- That means launching hundreds of composting programs in a few years.
What's next: When asked about the slow expansion, Fergus mentioned challenges "including funding, school-level support, and student, staff and parent participation," but didn't directly answer the question.
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