May 7, 2024 - News

Neighborhoods that are crushing it on composting

A bar chart that displays compost sign-ups in various Chicago neighborhoods as of May 6, 2024. Bowmanville leads with 927 sign-ups, followed by Avondale with 668, and Logan Square with 653. The neighborhoods with the fewest sign-ups are Grand Boulevard and Lower West Side, with 188 and 179 respectively.
Data: Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation; Chart: Axios Visuals

Sign-ups for Chicago's six-month-old food scrap drop-off program continue to grow, but hopes for expanding it to a pickup service seem increasingly uncertain.

Why it matters: A comprehensive compost program could divert up to 20% of Chicago's household waste from the landfill, according to one UIC study.

Driving the news: It's International Compost Awareness Week, in case you forgot.

By the numbers: Bowmanville remains the clear leader for household sign-ups, followed by Avondale and Logan Square.

  • West Englewood and Garfield Ridge trail the pack with just 14 and 13.
  • Since the program started in October, the city has collected 109.2 tons of food scraps to be turned into soil enriching compost at the Whole Earth's Harborview Composting Facility on the far South Side.

The latest: In January, Ald. Matt Martin told Axios he harbored hopes for a pickup pilot this year, but Streets and Sanitation officials won't comment on that goal, saying only:

  • "The City is currently focused on building the existing Food Scrap Drop-Off program; however we continue to seek grant opportunities to further elevate the City's food waste collection options."

Zoom out: Oak Park, Evanston, and cities across the nation, including Seattle, San Francisco and New York, already offer food scrap pickup programs.

How it works: Monica recently made a fun video demonstrating how easy it is to collect food scraps at home and dump them at one of 17 drop-off sites around town.

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