Jan 9, 2024 - News

Chicago composting drop-off sites see most interest on North Side

Sign-ups at Chicago food scrap drop-off sites
Data: Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

More than 3,600 Chicago households — largely on the North Side — have signed up for Chicago's food scrap composting program since the city launched the effort in October.

Why it matters: According to one UIC study, composting could divert nearly 20% of Chicago's residential waste away from the landfill and into facilities that turn it into a soil enricher, helping both the Earth and the city budget.

How it works: I recently made a fun video demonstrating just how easy it is to collect food scraps at home and dump them at one of 15 drop-off centers around town.

By the numbers: City officials say they've collected about 100,000 pounds of food scraps through the program so far, but they haven't yet released which neighborhoods have collected the most.

  • As for sign-ups, the Bowmanville drop-off site — serving Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, Andersonville, Edgewater and Rogers Park — has registered the most interest.
Data: Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation; Chart: Axios Visuals

What they're saying: "I think it's an important thing and it's free so why not take advantage of it," Avondale resident Diane S. told Axios after tossing scraps into the green cans on Rockwell last weekend.

47th Ward Ald. Matt Martin wasn't surprised to learn that his ward has seen some of the most registrations, noting that they also host a robust garden-based composting program and the WasteNot Compost service.

  • "Ultimately, I think we need curbside composting available to all residents the same way that recycling and waste hauling are," he tells Axios.

Department of Streets and Sanitation commissioner Cole Stallard tells Axios that the agency is "working towards educating residents on the benefits of composting so we can continue to steadily grow the program."

Zoom out: New York recently passed a law to offer curbside composting pick-up in all five boroughs. In 2025, separating garbage, recyclables and organic waste will become mandatory for all residents.

What we're watching: Ald. Martin says he believes a Chicago curbside pick-up pilot could start as early as this fall, if federal funding comes through.

  • And public participation in the drop-off program could help inform where the city will roll out the pilot first, Martin says.
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