U.S. EPA seeks feedback on draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution

Plastic debris on a beach with water in the background.
Debris at Magee Wildlife Area near Oak Harbor, OH. (Credit: NOAA)

Although plastics have led to many positive innovations that have benefitted human society (e.g. less expensive medical devices, more portable electronic devices, increased fuel efficiency of vehicles made with plastic incorporated in their bodies, etc.), it is clear that plastic pollution is an ever-growing problem that threatens human and environmental health. When considering the fate of all plastic ever produced, Geyer et al. estimated that as of 2015, “approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste had been generated, around 9% of which had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050.” [Note: Mt=million metric tons] In its 2022 report, Global Plastics Outlook: Economic Drivers, Environmental Impacts and Policy Options, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) stated that “Widespread plastics use and inadequate prevention measures have led to persistent plastic leakage. In 2019 an estimated 22 Mt of plastics leaked into the environment. The largest leakage source (82%) is mismanaged waste, i.e. waste that is inadequately disposed of. Other sources are abrasion and losses of microplastics (12%), littering (5%) and marine activities (1%).” They define “mismanaged waste” as “Waste that is not captured by any state-of-the-art waste collection or treatment facilities. It includes waste that is burned in open pits, dumped into seas or open waters, or disposed of in unsanitary landfills and dumpsites.” Even when plastics are collected and processed at a recycling facility, there is still potential for pollution. A study published this month in the Journal of Hazardous Materials Advances describes the analysis of wastewater from a UK plastics recycling facility before and after filters were installed. While filters decreased the discharge of microplastics, even with the filters in place, the total discharge from the multiple washes used in processing could produce up to 75 billion particles per cubic meter of wastewater. If these findings are extrapolated across the whole of the plastics recycling industry, the potential pollution from plastic recycling facilities alone is mind-boggling.

Plastics in the environment break down into smaller and smaller pieces over time. The full extent of the impacts of micro- and nano-plastics on Earth’s ecosystems is unknown, but we do know that wildlife may ingest plastic accidentally when eating food waste contained in plastic, because of visual similarities of plastics to their food sources, and in some cases because the plastic smells like food. When prey animals consume plastic, their predators ingest the plastic along with the prey. Even humans can ingest plastic in this way, and microplastics can also be inhaled. Microplastics are found worldwide, even in protected areas. They have been found in sea ice in the Arctic and on the ocean floor. They’ve even been found in human breast milk.

Given the scale and ubiquity of plastic pollution, in April 2023 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution This builds upon EPA’s National Recycling Strategy, focusing on means to reduce, reuse, collect, and capture plastic waste.

image of national strategy cover pageEPA has identified three key objectives for the strategy. The draft strategy document lists proposed actions associated with each objective.

  • Objective A: Reduce pollution during plastic production. This entails designing products for reuse and recycling, using less impactful materials, phasing out unnecessary products, and ensuring proper controls at plastic production facilities.
  • Objective B: Improve post-use materials management. This involves the pursuit of circularity through pathways susch as reuse, refilling, and composting.
  • Objective C: Prevent trash and micro/nanoplastics from entering waterways and remove escaped trash from the environment. The pursuit of this objective may involve policy, programs, technical assistance, compliance assurance efforts, improved water management, improved measurement, increased public awareness, and further research.

Read the full draft strategy at https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2023-04/Draft_National_Strategy_to_Prevent_Plastic_Pollution.pdf. An executive summary is also available.

EPA has opened a public comment period on this draft national strategy. Comments are due on or before June 16, 2023. EPA is asking the public to consider several key questions when reviewing and commenting on the draft strategy. To see these questions and learn more about how to submit your comments, see https://www.epa.gov/circulareconomy/draft-national-strategy-prevent-plastic-pollution#feedback.

Registration open for International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) events

ICAW 2023 graphic

The Illinois Food Scrap & Composting Coalition (IFSCC), a non-profit organization that advances the diversion and composting of all organics in the state, has announced its International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) 2023 programming. ISTC is an organizational member of IFSCC and the Technical Assistance Program’s zero waste team is actively involved in IFSCC and its committees.

ICAW is the largest and most comprehensive education initiative of the global compost community. The 2023 ICAW theme is “For Healthier Soil … Healthier Food, Compost!” and the 2023 dates are Sunday, May 7 – Saturday, May 13. Learn more about ICAW on the Compost Research and Education Foundation website.

Since 2021, the IFSCC has planned robust ICAW programming that combines in-person and hands-on experiences with virtual discussions and presentations to reach diverse and widespread audiences at all stages of life and composting experience. The 2023 line-up includes a day of “Adventures in Composting” with farmers, gardeners, and backyard composters around the state; a virtual International Cafe at which composting stories from around the world will be shared; a virtual Legislative Lunch & Learn; and multiple opportunities throughout the week to attend library programs and obtain finished compost.

Visit https://illinoiscomposts.org/icaw-2023/ to learn more. This page on the IFSCC website includes:

  • An expandable schedule of events, event map, and registration links for virtual events;
  • A toolkit for libraries throughout IL to use for relevant programming during ICAW;
  • Links to further information on international ICAW activities;
  • Links to connect with ICAW on social media;
  • Highlights from last year’s programming, including recordings of virtual events; and
  • Bios for the co-chairs of the IFSCC ICAW planning committee, Kate Caldwell and Merleanne Rampale.

Finally, if you’re new to composting, check out this recent blog post from TAP, which includes resources for a variety of home composting methods: https://green-lunchroom.istc.illinois.edu/2023/04/05/composting-at-home-videos-upcoming-webinars-other-resources-for-beginners/.

ICAW info poster from IFSCC

Farm to Food Bank project publishes 2022 year in review report

Friend of the Food Banks signage

As previously reported on the ISTC blog, the Farm to Food Bank program recently developed six case studies highlighting work with farmers during the 2022 growing season. Each case study includes a summary of the project, as well as lessons learned. Pilot project models included food flowing from farm to food bank, farm to food pantry, and utilizing aggregation sites.

Now the program has releasedIllinois Farm to Food Bank Program 2022 Year in Review.” This report outlines all the different pilot projects that occurred in 2022 along with key takeaways. It also details central challenges and opportunities that exist in expanding this statewide program. The report was authored by the ISTC Technical Assistance Program (TAP) Zero Waste Program, in collaboration with Steve Ericson of Feeding Illinois.

Learn more about the Farm to Food Bank project on the TAP website and the Feeding Illinois website. You may view the complete list of Farm to Food Bank project publications on IDEALS.

ISTC is proud to be a 2023 Food Waste Prevention Week Partner

Food Waste Prevention Week Partner logo

Mark your calendars for Food Waste Prevention Week, scheduled to take place April 10-16 this year. In 2018 alone, EPA estimates that about 63 million tons of wasted food were generated in the commercial, institutional, and residential sectors. Food Waste Prevention Week is a collaborative effort to raise awareness about food waste and its negative impacts on our society and environment, while also sharing resources to help individuals, families, and organizations reduce their own food waste. Because its Technical Assistance Program (TAP) has experience working on food waste reduction and management projects, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center is proud to be a partner organization for Food Waste Prevention Week!

Be sure to check ISTC’s social media platforms during April 10-16th, as we highlight some of the past and present work TAP is doing related to food waste. We’ll also share links to relevant blog posts, websites, videos, and other resources to help you on your food waste reduction journey. If you’re not already following us on social media, you can connect with us on:

Throughout the week, several partners across the U.S. will host webinars to inspire action to reduce food waste. For example:

  • Local Solutions: Food Waste Prevention Week. On Monday, April 10 at noon Central time, join the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for a presentation featuring Food For the Soul, Hamilton County R3Source, Food Shift, and Alameda County StopWaste. County recycling experts and food rescuers will talk about valuing food, ensuring good food gets eaten, and how they share their stories with the community. Register here.
  • The Sustainable Management of Food on the U.S.-México Border. On Wednesday, April 12 at 12:30 PM Central, U.S. EPA Region 9 will present on food waste prevention, recovery, and recycling strategies, policies, and practices for and by border-adjacent communities. Register here.
  • School Food Recovery: Inventory Management, Share Tables, Smarter Lunchrooms and Food Donations. Also on April 12, at 1 PM Central, you can learn about food recovery in Florida schools. Guest speakers from Orange County Public Schools will provide key takeaways from their efforts to increase consumption, decrease waste, and donate excess food. Register here. [Note: Topics covered relate to TAP’s past Green Lunchroom Challenge project and efforts on a food waste reduction toolkit for IL Schools, though neither ISTC nor the Wasted Food Action Alliance is involved in planning or presenting this webinar.]
  • Food Rescue 101 for Commercial Kitchens. From 11 AM to noon Central on April 12, zero-waste specialist and Careit CEO Alyson Schill takes restaurants, food-based nonprofits, institutions, and other kitchen staff on a journey of food waste in commercial food establishments. Participants will learn: Why reducing food waste benefits businesses and communities; techniques to reduce food loss; successful food donation with the Careit app; and how to compost the rest for healthy soils. Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/food-waste-prevention-rescue-and-composting-101-tickets-591691664697[Note: The topics covered in this webinar relate to an ongoing collaborative effort between TAP and UI Extension focused on greater Chicagoland, though neither of those organizations is involved in planning or presenting this webinar.]

See https://www.foodwastepreventionweek.com/webinars for additional webinars scheduled for Food Waste Prevention Week, and learn more about other ways you can get involved at https://www.foodwastepreventionweek.com/get-involved.

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding now available to support recycling and composting

Three colorful bins, labelled "Compost," "Waste," and "Recycle" sit side by side. Each bin's label shows photos of materials that should be placed inside.
Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash

On November 17, 2022 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of $100 million in grants for recycling infrastructure and recycling education and outreach projects throughout the country.

The Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling (SWIFR) Grant Program is divided into several funding opportunities. Information on the State and Territory Grant Program and the Political Subdivisions Grant Program is currently available on the U. S. EPA website, with information on the Tribal Grant Program coming soon.

SWIFR Political Subdivisions Grant Program

Entities eligible to apply for funding through the SWIFR Political Subdivisions Grant Program include “Political subdivisions” of states and territories, such as counties, cities, towns, parishes, and similar units of governments that have executive and legislative functions to be political subdivisions of states and territories.

Applications Due: January 16, 2023
Notice of Intent to Apply Deadline: December 15, 2022
Funding Available: The minimum individual award amount is $500,000 and the maximum individual award is $4,000,000 for the grant period.
Grant Period: Up to 3 years

Materials and waste streams considered under this announcement include:

  • Municipal solid waste (MSW), including plastics, organics, paper, metal, glass, etc. and construction and demolition (C&D) debris.
  • In addition, materials and waste streams considered include the management pathways of source reduction, reuse, sending materials to material recovery facilities, composting, industrial uses (e.g., rendering, anaerobic digestion (AD)), and feeding animals.

All applications must achieve one or more of the following objectives:

  • Establish, increase, expand, or optimize collection and improve materials management infrastructure.
  • Fund the creation and construction of tangible infrastructure, technology, or other improvements to reduce contamination in the recycled materials stream.
  • Establish, increase, expand, or optimize capacity for materials management.
  • Establish, improve, expand, or optimize end-markets for the use of recycled commodities.
  • Demonstrate a significant and measurable increase in the diversion, recycling rate, and quality of materials collected for municipal solid waste.

Eligible activities include (but are not limited to):

  • Innovative solutions and/or programs that provide or increase access to prevention, reuse, and recycling in areas that currently do not have access; including development of and/or upgrades to drop-off and transfer stations (including but not limited to a hub-and-spoke model in rural communities), etc.
  • The purchase of recycling equipment, including but not limited to sorting equipment, waste metering, trucks, processing facilities, etc.
  • Upgrades to material recovery facilities (MRFs) such as optical sorters, artificial intelligence, etc.
  • Development of and/or upgrades to composting facilities or anaerobic digesters to increase capacity for organics recycling.
  • Development of and/or upgrades to curbside collection programs or drop-off stations for organics.
  • Development of and/or upgrades to reuse infrastructure such as online reuse platforms, community repair spaces, technology and equipment to improve materials management reuse options, food donation, and upcycling, staging areas for material reuse/donation, reuse warehouses, and reuse centers, and electronic waste and computer recycling and refurbishing.

Recycling Education and Outreach (REO) Grant Program

The REO Grant Program includes $30 million in funding for projects to improve consumer education and outreach on waste prevention, reuse, recycling, and composting. The grants aim to reduce waste generation, decrease contamination in the recycling stream, and increase recycling rates across the country in a manner that is equitable for all.

Eligible applicants include:

  • U.S. States, including Washington, D.C.
  • Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.
  • Local governments.
  • Federally recognized tribal governments.
  • Native Hawaiian organizations, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
  • Nonprofit organizations.
  • Public-private partnerships.

Applications Due: January 16, 2023
Notice of Intent to Apply Deadline: December 15, 2022
Funding Available: The minimum individual award floor is $250,000, and the maximum individual award ceiling is $2,000,000 for the grant period.
Grant Period: Up to 3 years

Materials within the scope of this grant program include commonly recycled materials, such as aluminum and steel containers, glass, cardboard paper, and plastics, as well as food, organics (yard and tree trimmings, wood, etc.), textiles, batteries, and electronics. Also within the scope of this grant program are education and outreach activities that prevent or reduce waste by reducing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, remanufacturing, recycling, composting, or using anaerobic digestor systems to treat these types of materials or to reduce related contamination.

All projects must encourage the collection of recyclable materials and must achieve one or more of the following objectives:

  • Inform the public about residential or community recycling programs.
  • Provide information about the recycled materials that are accepted as part of a residential or community recycling program that provides for the separate collection of residential solid waste from recycled material.
  • Increase collection rates and decrease contamination in residential and community recycling programs.

Eligible activities include (but are not limited to):

  • Public service announcements.
  • Door-to-door education and outreach campaigns.
  • Social media and digital outreach.
  • An advertising campaign on recycling awareness.
  • The development and dissemination of:
    • a toolkit for a municipal and commercial recycling program.
    • information on the importance of quality in the recycling stream.
    • information on the benefits of recycling.
    • information on what happens to materials after the materials are placed in the bin.
  • Businesses recycling outreach.
  • Bin, cart, and other receptacle labeling and signs.
  • Community ambassador education programs or training the trainer programs.
  • Other education and outreach activities to improve waste prevention, reuse, and recycling, and reduce contamination, such as evaluations and evidence-based messaging and strategies associated with preventing or reducing waste and improving reuse, repair, refurbish, and remanufacture of materials.

Learn more

“Green” your Halloween with these seasonal waste diversion programs

What do the members of the ISTC Technical Assistance Program’s zero waste team fear the most? Unnecessary waste! Think about all the products and packaging sent off to be prematurely buried in landfills before their useful “lives” are truly over–it makes our blood run cold. To avoid being haunted by the ghosts of poorly managed materials, check out the following Halloween waste diversion programs to keep waste out of landfills.

Please note that links and/or mentions of organizations or businesses are provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as endorsements by the Technical Assistance Program, ISTC, the Prairie Research Institute, or the University of Illinois.

Pumpkin Smash Events

Did you know that IL leads the nation in production of pumpkins? Did you further know that pumpkins are mostly water? A great deal of labor, land, water, and other resources are invested in growing, harvesting, and distributing pumpkins in our state, and many of them end up being used for brief decorations that may wind up in landfills after Halloween has passed.

Pumpkin “Smash” events are events to collect jack-o-lanterns and other pumpkins for composting. They’re held on the Saturday after Halloween (November 5th this year), and may involve fun activities in which people can “smash” their pumpkins by throwing them into a designated dumpster or compost heap. Some events even involve pumpkin “chucking” with catapults! SCARCE has helped Pumpkin Smashes grow to over 59 sites across IL since 2014, and their efforts have even inspired communities outside of IL to host their own pumpkin collections. According to the SCARCE website, the 2021 Pumpkin Smash events collectively composted over 242 tons of pumpkins! See https://www.scarce.org/pumpkins/ for more information, including a map of registered events in the state, a guide for hosting a Pumpkin Smash to help with planning for next year, a form to register your local event so it will be included on the aforementioned map, and example flyers and other resources to help spread the word. See this recent Illinois Food Scrap Coalition blog post and flyer developed by Go Green Winnetka for further information.

Flyer for Pumpkin Smash Event at the Landscape Recycling Center in Urbana, IL.

Candy Wrapper Recycling Programs

When you’re hosting a Halloween party or having kids trick-or-treat at the homes of people you know and trust, there are opportunities to pass out/receive homemade or minimally-packaged bulk treats and reduce the amount of plastic packaging associated with Halloween festivities. However, the reality is that many people pass out candy to or collect candy from strangers; plus, many of us like to purchase Halloween candy to share with coworkers or our family during the month of October as part of celebrating. The result is lots of plastic packaging ending up in landfills because such material is not collected in typical recycling programs because the form or components of the packaging make them difficult to recycle. There are however, a couple of options that can help divert the seasonal increase in candy wrappers from the landfill.

Trick or trash box
Trick or Trash collection box available from Rubicon.

Rubicon, in collaboration with the National Wildlife Foundation, annually offers a Trick or Trash program, in which schools, independent small businesses, and community organizations can order FREE candy wrapper collection boxes. Organizations receive their collection boxes through the UPS Carbon Neutral Shipment program, set them up and collect wrappers until their box is full. Then, boxes are sealed and mailed back using a pre-affixed label. Each participating organization gets a certificate of recycling confirming how many wrappers they diverted from landfill. The recycled plastic can be used to make “doggie bags” used at animal shelters for animal waste collection. See https://www.rubicon.com/trick-or-trash/how-it-works/ for more information, and https://www.rubicon.com/trick-or-trash/#block_5aee8cc625f6cfa2532fd2b387a4e675 to order a free box. Educational materials, including lesson plans, are available at https://www.rubicon.com/trick-or-trash/education/. Note that teachers and organizations are limited to one free box to ensure that more people across the country can participate, and you should allow at least a week for shipping. So if you order a free box now, you might plan to collect wrappers right after Halloween, rather than at Halloween events. Individuals or larger business might choose to purchase a box for participation.

TerraCycle also sells “zero waste boxes” for various hard-to-recycle waste streams, including candy and snack wrapper zero waste boxes. That company also collaborates with various Subaru locations nationwide that host collection boxes for items including disposable cups, lids, straws, candy and snack wrappers, and coffee and creamer capsules. Learn more on the TerraCycle Subaru Loves the Earth web page and search for a participating location near you.

Learn more about reducing and reusing on Halloween

Illinois Farm to Food Bank Feasibility Study report now available online

Cover page of Farm to Food Bank report

As reported in previous posts, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center Technical Assistance Program (TAP) has been collaborating with Feeding Illinois, the Illinois Farm Bureau, the Illinois Specialty Growers Association, and other stakeholders to explore ways to reduce food waste from farms while also recovering nutritious fresh foods to increase the state’s food supply and help citizens facing food insecurity.

Recently, project partners released the initial feasibility study report from the first year of this project, entitled Exploring the Development of an Illinois Farm to Food Bank Program. The report is available in IDEALS, the University of Illinois’ institutional repository.

Through interviews, surveys, focus groups, and pilot projects it became clear that a Farm to Food Bank program would be welcomed by both the farming and food banking communities in Illinois. Such programs are defined in the Code of Federal Regulations [at 7 CFR 251.10(j)] as “the harvesting, processing, packaging, or transportation of unharvested, unprocessed, or unpackaged commodities donated by agricultural producers, processors, or distributors for use by Emergency Feeding Organizations (EFOs)” – i.e., hunger relief agencies. Several such programs exist throughout the United States, though not in every state (for examples, see the “Lessons from Other Farm to Food Bank Programs” section of this report). While commonly referred to as Farm to Food Bank, these programs can also operate as Farm to Food Pantry programs.

While this is an ongoing research project, this report serves to demonstrate research efforts undertaken from December 2020 – February 2022 that have led to this conclusion along with identifying strengths, weaknesses, threats, opportunities, and recommendations for a statewide Farm to Food Bank program.

Recommendations for 2022 and beyond include the following:

Three essential aspects of a farm to food bank program1. A Farm to Food Bank program should have three primary goals:
➢ Support farmers by providing a secondary market for off-grade and  surplus products.
➢ Increase access to local, nutritious foods.
➢ Reduce food waste/surplus on farms and associated energy and resources.

2. Equity must be an essential part of the program.
3. Seek out partnerships with existing aggregation and processing centers.
4. Seek out partnerships with new food pantries.
5. Make Feeding Illinois and their member food banks a staple at ag-focused and food access events.
6. Increase communication between food banks.
7. Ensure buy-in from food banks and food pantries.
8. Improve capacity and resources at the food pantries.
9. Connect a Farm to Food Bank program with existing
technology platforms.
10. Diversify funding sources. Develop an advocacy plan to pursue public and private support.
11. Establish an advisory board to guide the actions of the Farm to Food Bank program.
12. Develop guidance and educational programs for farmers.
13. Measure success by more than just pounds of donated food.
14. Hire a dedicated employee to manage the Farm to Food Bank program.
15. Adapt the program as needed.
16. Continue piloting Farm to Food Bank strategies around the state.

While these recommendations can serve to guide Farm to Food Bank efforts, further research is needed to uncover opportunities and test collection and distribution strategies. ISTC and Feeding Illinois will collaborate to continue this research for the remainder of 2022 into 2023. The project team will continue outreach and engagement efforts to both increase participation and gather feedback on the program. They will also continue to work with Rendleman Orchards, which participated in the first pilot project of the study, as well as conducting additional pilot projects. In the coming year, ISTC and Feeding Illinois will also work with farmers markets around the state to test aggregation strategies.

Read more about this project on the “Project Descriptions” section of the TAP website.

Illinois EPA announces notice of funding opportunity for county solid waste planning

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) Director John J. Kim recently announced a new funding to assist counties and other units of local government in implementing their solid waste planning obligations under the Illinois Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act (SWPRA). This funding opportunity follows a recommendation from the Statewide Materials Management Advisory committee that recommended, in its July 2021 report, that the Illinois EPA provide financial support to units of local government to enable them to make meaningful updates to their statutorily required solid waste management plans. A Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) has been posted to the Illinois EPA website.

Under the Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act, counties and units of local government are obligated to revisit their Illinois Solid Waste Management Plans every five years and, if necessary, submit plans with significant updates to the Illinois EPA, said Director Kim. These grants provide an important resource to county and local governments as they update these plans for managing solid waste disposal and recycling.”

The Illinois EPA Waste Reduction and Compliance Section is responsible for reviewing county solid waste management plans submitted pursuant to the SWPRA. Through this funding opportunity, Illinois EPA intends to provide interested counties, and other units of local government required to develop a county solid waste management plan, financial assistance to help prepare the next plan update.

Eligible projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Conducting a local solid waste and materials management needs assessment;
  • Surveying local solid waste and materials management stakeholders to determine programmatic expansion viability;
  • Internally authoring solid waste management plan updates; or
  • Procuring consulting services to prepare solid waste management plan updates.

The Illinois EPA Waste Reduction and Compliance Section (WRCS) is responsible for reviewing County Solid Waste Management Plans submitted pursuant to the SWPRA.

Each county or unit of local government required to develop a solid waste management plan is eligible for $5,000.00 of funding. Applications must be submitted electronically to epa.recycling@illinois.gov and are due by 5:00 PM (CST) on May 31, 2022. Applicants may not apply for a grant until they are prequalified through the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) Grantee portal.

May 1-7, 2022 is International Compost Awareness Week

2022 International Compost Awareness Week poster

Did you know that the first full week of May is celebrated annually in the US and other countries as International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW)? Composting is a way of recycling organic materials (e.g. grass clippings and other yard waste, as well as food scraps) to create a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Things that have grown break down and support the health of soil and thus new growth–that’s the idea behind the theme of this year’s ICAW: Recipe for Regeneration: Compost.

May 1-7, 2022 has also been declared Compost Awareness Week in Illinois, thanks to the recent adoption of SR0706 by the 102nd Illinois General Assembly. See https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocTypeID=SR&DocNum=706&GAID=16&SessionID=110&LegID=137663 for the full text of the resolution and related information.

The Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC), a not-for-profit organization that advances diversion and composting of organics in Illinois through advocacy, program implementation, market and business development, policy, and outreach, has lined up a variety of events to celebrate ICAW. The following are highlights of IFSC’s ICAW events, beginning Sunday, May 1 at 9 AM:

Sunday, May 1, 9 – 11 AM, The Mike Nowak Radio ShowLearn how composting and using finished compost regenerate Illinois soil to grow nutritious food with friends from the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County and the Vernon Hills Park District’s Community Garden.

Sundays, May 1 and 8, 1 – 4 PM, Wednesday, May 4, 5 – 7 PM, Collective Resource Compost Gift-BackPay just $5 per 5 gallons of finished compost at The Talking Farm in Skokie. Separate registration requested.

Monday, May 2, 12 PM, IFSC’s kick-off program (virual event) – “What’s cookin’ with IFSC, the US Composting Council (USCC) and ICAW.” Details here.

Monday, May 2, 12:30 – 1:30 PM, Vermont Organics Recycling SummitJoin IFSC at the Vermont Organics Recycling Summit and listen to Keynote Speaker Finian Makepeace of the Kiss the Ground Project. Separate registration required.

Tuesday, May 3, 7 PM, Illinois Farmer Expert Panel (virtual event) – Hear farmers describe their farm, crops, operations, and compost use. Details here.

Thursday, May 5, 7 PM, On-Farm Tours (virtual event) – Learn the benefits of regenerative agriculture and composting via prerecorded farm tours. Details here.

To learn more about the benefits of composting, see https://illinoiscomposts.org/why-compost/. To learn how to start composting, see https://illinoiscomposts.org/start-composting/.