Oak Park Brings Curbside Composting to Community

from garbage to garden With the goal of decreasing the amount of organic refuse sent to landfills, the Village of Oak Park launched its first ever food scrap curbside composting pilot program in 2012. The pilot program, which ran from April through November, was open to the 1,300 residences located south of the Eisenhower Expressway from Harlem Avenue to East Avenue.  A dramatic example of the potential of the program can be seen at one local elementary school,  Beye School, which began participating in the program this Fall.  Beye has reduced its lunchroom waste to just 3%, meaning it is operating a 97% waste-free lunchroom. And due to its overwhelming success, the Village has decided to expand the CompostABLE pilot program throughout the entire Oak Park community. The expanded pilot will be available to single-family residences, up to and including five-flat households using Village refuse and recycling services. Participants will receive a special mobile cart for organics that will hold the approximate equivalent of three bags/containers of yardwaste that is collected in the current program.

The program will be offered on a voluntary, subscription basis. The subscription cost will be $14 per month, which is about the cost of one yardwaste sticker per week. Subscribers who use the organics cart for their yardwaste and food scraps will not be required to purchase yardwaste stickers.  There are no restrictions on sharing a cart, so residents who maintain backyard compost piles or who mulch grass clippings may wish to investigate sharing organics carts and costs with neighbors.

The MOST IMPORTANT THING to know about this program is that it is not like your standard backyard composting. This program takes and composts: (soiled or clean) paper, (soiled or clean) paper napkins, (soiled or clean) pizza boxes (!!!), (soiled) cardboard. It takes ALL food waste even the darn leftovers that you can't put in the backyard compost pile. It is basically what Berkeley and San Francisco and many European cities have been doing for a long time.

Organics carts will be delivered during the last two weeks in March. Organics pick-ups will begin on your regular collection day starting April 1. Information on how to sign up for the CompostABLE program can be found here.  Make sure to review the document, and return the card located at the bottom  of the page to sign up. Please be sure to include your email address for monthly program updates and event information.

Residents who participate in the project will receive a 96-gallon cart for the weekly collection of organics, an under-sink collection bucket and a box of compostable bags for food scraps. Both yardwaste and food scraps may be placed in the organics cart. However, food scraps must be contained in a bag labeled compostable that meets ASTM 6400 standards.

Need more information on the Village CompostABLE program? Please contact the Village Public Works Department at Works at 708.358.5700 or email publicworks@oak-park.us.