International Compost Awareness Week and Illinois Compost News

International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW), falling on May 7-13 this year, is celebrated during the first full week in May annually. The event began in Canada in 1995 and has since grown as more and more organizations and individuals become aware of food waste issues and recognize the value of composting as a waste reduction strategy with multiple environmental benefits. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Compost! Healthy Soil, Healthy Food.” Learn more at http://compostfoundation.org/icaw.

 

IL Economic Impact and Market Study
Composting food scraps also has economic benefits as illustrated in a recent report produced by Skumatz Economic Research Associates (SERA). Building on the 2015 Food Scrap Composting Challenges and Solutions in Illinois  report produced by recent collaboration with the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC), Seven Generations Ahead (SGA) contracted SERA to identify the problems associated with landfilling organics, food scraps in particular, and recommend solutions emphasizing the development of the Illinois sustainable food industry. The goals of the project were to examine the influence of expanded food scraps recovery and composting programs on improving the viability of commercial composting ventures in Illinois, drive Illinois-based food production, and enhance the local food economy in Illinois, including jobs and revenues.

 

Analyses in this report indicate that the three targeted organic materials – food scraps, compostable yard waste (not including woody materials), and compostable paper– represent significant recoverable resources. Diverting these target materials would reduce 22% of tons disposed, and 16% of the MTCO2e available from all the non-recovered recyclables and organics disposed annually in Illinois. Using estimates of future prices of carbon dioxide, the value of the carbon dioxide represented by the target food scraps is $54 million – $89 million annually (2020 prices). SERA found that if IL can achieve a 65% organics diversion goal, the state will realize 3,185 jobs paying an average salary of $50k annually, $290 million annually in economic output, $10.5 million annually in local and state tax revenue, over 2 million tons of material diverted from landfill annually, and over 800k MTCO2e in GHG emissions reduction annually. This all makes composting of organics seem like a sound environmental and economic investment.

 

The report recommends a multiyear implementation plan for statewide diversion programs, citing Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law (Act 148) as an example. Recommended steps include: setting a statewide goal for organics diversion; adding food wastes to the existing yard waste landfill ban; adding tip fee surcharges for landfilled organics; introducing commerical and residential a Pay-As-You-throw (PAYT); promotion of urban gardens and backyard composting; grant programs to assist businesses and communities with food scrap composting; organics diversion requirements for sectors generating the most material; measurement strategies; and clarification for food donation regulations and encouragement of food recovery.

 

To download the full report, Economic Impact and Market Study Report: Elements of the Case for Advancing Food Scrap Composting Industry and the Link to Building Illinois’ Local Food Economygo to http://illinoiscomposts.org/images/pdfs/Economic-Impact-Report.pdf.

 

Village of Lake Bluff and City of Highwood (IL) Offer Year-Round Food Scrap Programs
Meanwhile, as part of their celebration of ICAW, leaders from the Village of Lake Bluff, the City of Highwood, the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO), and recycling businesses held a press conference May 10th to discuss year-round curbside collection of food scraps and yard waste for residents in those municipalities.  They are the latest in a small number of IL communities offering similar services. Starting this month, Highwood is requiring residents to separate food scraps from other waste to keep these materials out of landfill. For more information, read the media advisory on the press conference, coverage in the Chicago Tribune on 5/1/17 and 5/10/17, and a document from SWALCO outlining Lake County’s food scrap composting options.

 

Approval for Composting Facility near Des Plaines, IL Moves Forward
Elsewhere on May 10, Patriot Acres, a proposed composting facility outside of Des Plaines, received approval from the Cook County Board of Commissioners. The facility has faced opposition from some residents who are concerned about odors among other issues. Patriot Acres has agreed to offer a complaint line, operate within set hours, and abide by a list of environmental requirements. Approval from Cook County allows Patriot Acres to move forward with requests for approval from the IL Environmental Protection Agency and the Metropolitan Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. To read more about the proposed facility and the debate surrounding it, see the 5/12/17 edition of WasteDive.

 

IL Resident Wins ICAW Poster Contest
Incidentally, as part of each year’s ICAW celebration, there is a contest for poster designs reflecting the year’s theme. This year’s winner is Ursula Gutowski a graphic designer from Niles, IL. You can read more about Ursula and her inspiration at http://compostfoundation.org/ICAW-Poster-Contest. To order a copy, visit the ICAW online store. More information about the 2018 poster contest will be available soon on the Composting Council’s Research and Education Foundation web site.

2017 ICAW poster contest winning design

About Joy Scrogum

Joy is a Sustainability Specialist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has worked on developing & maintaining online resources for the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable since 2001. She also currently coordinates the Sustainable Electronics Initiative & works on Zero Waste Illinois projects, including the Illini Gadget Garage and the Green Lunchroom Challenge. Key past projects include coordinating the International Sustainable Electronics Competition, developing & teaching ENG 498 "Sustainable Technology: Environmental & Social Impacts of Innovations," & Greening Schools, which focused on making K-12 facilities & curricula more sustainable.
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