Community, Environmental, Household, Life and Living, Local, Nature, Park Forest, Recycling

Park Forest to Offer Composting Option to Residents

recycling ring of leaves with village name inside
Park Forest is introducing a composting option to its residents (VOPF Image)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Park Forest may soon join its north suburban peers in having a composting option for food scraps, coffee grounds, and other items currently tossed in the trash. In a first for the south suburbs, the village is hoping to generate enough resident interest to implement at-home pick-up of compostable materials for a fee starting in September.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, composting enriches the soil, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, reduces methane emissions from landfills, and lowers the carbon footprint. Cities across the country have recognized the benefits of composting and introduced programs. While Chicago does not currently have a citywide program in place, San Francisco and Seattle have had programs for years, and New York City and Boston recently launched their own composting initiatives.

The village is working with The Urban Canopy, an urban farming operation based on the southside of Chicago which grows, distributes, and composts produce. One aspect of their operation is their Compost Club which collects compostable food scraps from homes and businesses and distributes them to partner farms for composting.

black circular logo with white plant sprout
Park Forest is working with The Urban Canopy to introduce a composting pick-up option (The Urban Canopy Image)

Carrie Malfeo, Park Forest’s Sustainability Coordinator, has worked to provide residents with a composting option for over a year. Assuming at least fifty residents sign up for the program, Park Forest will become the first south suburban community with a composting program in operation. Malfeo is “very optimistic” that Park Forest will reach the target and promoted the program along with Urban Canopy employees at village events during the summer. The program is also featured in this month’s water bill.

Once in operation, residents will be given a five-gallon bucket to collect eggshells, peels, bread, coffee (including filters), dairy products, bones, meats, and other compostable material. Trucks from The Urban Canopy will collect the buckets from a location chosen by the resident (behind bushes, side of the house, etc.) and leave a clean bucket.

yellow plastic bucket with black lid
Participating residents of the composting program will be given a 5-gallon bucket to collect food scraps, (VOPF Image)

While there is no cost to the village itself, the cost to participating residents for the bi-weekly pick-up is $25 per month payable to The Urban Canopy via PayPal. This is currently the only method of payment accepted. Residents can suspend pick-ups or schedule more frequent pick-ups as needed. The Urban Canopy will send texts and/or emails to remind residents to place their bucket outside on pick-up day as well as to retrieve their new bucket.

In addition to food scraps, other compostable materials include soiled paper towels, pet food, natural cork, flowers, paper egg cartons, and greasy pizza boxes (torn up).

For every ten pick-ups, participating residents will receive a complimentary bucket of finished compost or a $5 voucher at a participating farmers’ market or restaurant. More details on participating businesses will be communicated once the program is underway.

The Urban Canopy website has more details on the program and addresses common questions residents may have. Among the most frequently asked questions is whether the composting material and bucket will smell and whether the bucket will attract bugs.

The website explains how to layer compostable materials to minimize odor. The bucket should not be any smellier than the garbage bags that currently contain these food scraps. Bugs should not be an issue if the bucket is tightly closed and picked-up on a regular basis.

Residents interested in the program can follow the QR code on the flyer below, visit The Urban Canopy website, or contact Malfeo on 708-503-9372 or at [email protected]. The Urban Canopy will contact residents who register in an email informing them of the pick-up day of the week for their neighborhood, assuming the targeted fifty Park Forest residents register.