composting in chicago

I'll try to post periodic updates on my composting experience: the good, the bad, and the smelly. luckily it has been so cold in Chicago, so I am hoping it is basically frozen. Summer will be ripe, fo sho.

Thought you might want to benefit from the deep rabbit hole I climbed into a few weeks ago when researching composting options in Chicago. -Erin

There are several options in Chicago. Check out below for the specifics:

Healthy Soil Compost, LLCThis is the one I decided to use, mostly because they were able to get me a bucket within a week and I was eager to get started. They also do business composting services! 

from their website. Healthy Soil Compost, LLC is a hybrid hauling solution to organic waste. By utilizing bicycles and motor-vehicles we provide a dynamic approach to community resource transport. We partner with licensed organic recyclers to process local, organic waste back into nutrient-rich energy for increasing soil health and community urban farming. We provide residents and businesses with all materials to start composting and reducing the load headed to landfills every day.

service territory.Lincoln Park, Old Town, Downtown Chicago, West Loop, River North, Gold Coast, Streeterville, Navy Pier, Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town, South Loop, Prairie District, Pilsen, Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Back of the Yards, Hyde Park, Bronzeville, Canaryville, and “everywhere in between.”

cost: $20/month for monthly pickup;  $30/month for biweekly pickup; $40/month for weekly pickup.

Compost Club. part of a larger organization called Urban Canopy, and their differentiating element is that they take the compost directly to urban farms here in the city. 

from their website: Keep the 5-gallon bucket (that we provide!) near your kitchen. Add your veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, spoiled fruit and other compostables! When it's time to swap out the bucket, leave it by your back door, front stoop, or alley, and we'll collect it and leave you a fresh one. Your food scraps head to one of several local Chicago farms who perform the actual composting! For every 10 buckets of scraps collected, members can choose from one of three rewards: 2lbs of finished worm castings for gardening; a $5 coupon to use for Urban Canopy farm produce at local farmers markets; a $5 gift to a local restaurant that uses composting; or, Compost Club members can donate their reward back to the Urban Canopy efforts.

service territory. Northern border: Rogers Park;Southern border: Hyde Park; Eastern border: Lake Michigan; Western border: Western Ave. (Western border varies a little)

cost: $12/month for monthly pickup; $22/month for biweekly pickup; $35/month for weekly pickup. New enrollment is monthly.

Collective ResourceResidential service area covers 50 communities, including commercial and event composting services. Here's a link to their service map

from their website. Our service provides door-to-door pickup of food scraps. We provide 5-gallon bucket to your family and then weekly or biweekly pick up the food scraps and take them to a commercial compost site. We leave a clean bucket for you to continue your collection for the next pickup. Most households work with some kind of counter top container and then empty into the big bucket when needed. Some customers choose to keep the bucket outside with a brick or flower pot on top, or it can be put out on pickup day.

service territory. 50 communities in and around Chicago. Here's a link to their service map

cost:  $20.50/month for biweekly pickup; $27/month for weekly pickup. Save with annual and quarterly payments.

WasteNot Compost. I love the story behind this organization--their CEO and founder began composting at the age of 15 at his job at a cafe.  "Liam began to take food waste as well as coffee waste home out of guilt to compost in his backyard. After the general manager noticed Liam's passion for sustainability and his entrepreneurial spirit, the cafe began paying him for food scrap diversion." AND they are the first "zero emissions" composter in Chicago.

from their website. Want to compost at home? Not a problem. We'd love to make that a reality for you and your loved ones. To start, we supply you a 5-gallon bucket, compostable liner, and a lid. Your bucket comes back cleaned with a fresh liner with every pickup. All we ask is that you throw your compostable waste in your bucket and set your bucket out on pickup day. Let us get dirty.

service territory. Albany Park, Avondale, Bucktown, Downtown, Edgewater, Gold Coast, Irving Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Logan Square, Mayfair, North Center, Old Irving Park, Ravenswood, Ravenswood Manor, Roscoe Village, Streeterville, Ukrainian Village, West Town, Wicker Park, & Wrigleyville

cost. $12/pickup for biweekly collection; $10/pickup for weekly collection.

Some other great Chicagoland composting resources:

Zero Waste ChicagoNot a composting service, but another great resource for composting info.

from their website. We are an environmental organization that offers resources and education to increase awareness of alternatives to the traditional waste stream. We seek to divert waste from the landfill through increased recycling and composting, transitioning from disposable items to reusable alternatives, and broader participation in the secondhand market. We believe that every small change helps and that everyone can make an impact. We highlight helpful resources and local businesses, host workshops and events, offer zero waste consulting for individuals and businesses, and work to build a supportive, inclusive community that encourages Chicago to transition to zero waste.

Oak Park compost program

from their website. With the goal of decreasing the amount of organic refuse sent to landfills, the Village of Oak Park offers a food scrap composting program to residents throughout the community. Participants receive a special mobile cart for organics that is comparable in volume to three bags or containers of yard waste collected in the current program. Subscribers who use the organics cart for their yard waste and food scraps will not be required to purchase yard waste stickers for materials placed in the cart.
Illinois Food Scrap Coalition. Provides information on providers that service towns and cities around the state and aims to increase composting in Illinois.


Erin Delawalla