Glencoe, Community

Glencoe residential composting program is underway

Goodbye landfills, hello composting.

You can now curb your food waste through the Village of Glencoe’s new curbside composting program in partnership with WasteNot, a Chicago-based compost collection service. 

In April 2024, Glencoe’s Village Board approved an exclusive agreement with WasteNot, allowing residents to sign up for the company’s services at reduced rates. According to Tommy Vaughan, the business operations manager at WasteNot, as of mid-May when the service officially became available, 50 Glencoe households have either signed up or switched to the discounted rate from their existing, pre-partnership plans. 

The Glencoe Sustainability Task Force is behind this push for composting in the community. Jeff Mawdsley, management analyst at the Village of Glencoe, said the task force identified food composting as a major area for waste reduction in 2023 and hopes to “encourage more widespread composting.” 

According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, 19 million tons of waste end up in Illinois landfills every year, and food waste accounts for approximately 20 percent of that amount — more than any other single waste category. When that food waste decomposes, it produces methane, a gas that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency flags as 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide, meaning it can trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere and contribute to global warming. 

WasteNot provides a home-by-home method of compost collection through what Mawdsley calls a “container swap model.” Participating residents receive an airtight, 5-gallon compost receptacle for food waste (including cooked and raw foods, dairy products and bones), 100% paper products (such as paper towels and pizza boxes) and other certified compostable products.

Next, WasteNot will collect the full pail curbside and leave a fresh, sanitized one in its place. Depending on preference and need, households can sign up for a weekly or biweekly service. 

Per the new agreement, WasteNot will be the only service provider for this curbside compost collection service in Glencoe. In turn, thanks to these exclusive municipal rights granted to the company, Glencoe residents get discounts on the service. 

“The idea is that the cheaper service will allow for more people to sign up and incentivize them [to do so],” Vaughan said.

The cost for Glencoe residents is currently $27 per month for weekly service or $18 per month for biweekly service. In comparison, in areas across Chicago without this agreement, residents pay $40 per month or $24 per month for WasteNot’s weekly or biweekly services respectively. Similar agreements to that of Glencoe’s are in place in other suburbs, such as Lake Forest, which began its partnership with WasteNot in 2023. Glencoe residents can sign up for WasteNot here.

WasteNot itself was founded in the North Side of Chicago in 2015 by Liam Donnelly. When Donnelly was a high school student working at a cafe, he saw firsthand how much food waste was being generated. Because Donnelly grew up composting in his backyard, he began taking the cafe’s food waste home with him to compost. As people saw him doing this, they expressed interest in hiring him to collect waste from both residences and businesses. 

Today, Vaughan said, WasteNot has the largest fully electric waste management fleet of vehicles in the United States. 

The company is working with the Glencoe Sustainability Task Force to spread the word about the benefits of composting, which include reducing food waste in landfills and lowering both the emissions generated by garbage trucks and the methane produced by food waste’s decomposition in landfills.

Vaughan said the company and Village of Glencoe are making sure this partnership is more than just WasteNot “coming to people’s homes and collecting their waste.”

“It’s about us being partners with the village to [educate and] raise awareness for food waste and composting and why it’s important,” Vaughan said. “Hopefully, it’s something that the next generation can start doing now in Glencoe and then can spend their whole lives composting.”

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Zoe Engels

Zoe Engels (she/her) is a writer and translator, currently working on a book project, from Chicagoland and now based in New York City. She holds a master's degree in creative nonfiction writing and translation (Spanish, Russian) from Columbia University and a bachelor's in English and international affairs from Washington University in St. Louis.

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