The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce (ACC) has partnered with WasteNot Compost to launch Clark Street Composts, a private-public pilot program aimed at providing a composting model for every neighborhood across Chicago. The initiative launches this week with more than 20 local restaurants, bars and other businesses committed to diverting their compostable waste away from landfills to be returned to the community as nutrient-rich soil.
Andersonville, a progressive environmental and social equity neighborhood on Chicago’s north side, has a strong record in sustainability practices, including the Andersonville Recycles program which launched in 2009. WasteNot has been rated the best overall composting company in the U.S. by the environmental website treehugger.com. Chicago’s 2.7 million residents rank last in the country in terms of recycling habits, with food waste estimated to make up over 50% of landfill contents, and 17% of greenhouse gasses produced in the U.S. are a product of food waste rotting in landfills.
Through Clark Street Composts, WasteNot Compost is educating and encouraging owners and managers to include composting in all aspects of their business. WasteNot provides bins and carts for members to divert the widest range of compostable items and are encouraged to dispose of not only fruit and vegetables, but other organic matter typically not considered compostable in backyard operations. These items include both cooked and raw food, meat, dairy products, hair, pet fur, yard waste, compostable products from packaging companies, and much more. To encourage business owners and their employees to participate in composting, WasteNot Compost provides an online membership experience and support for all their needs and questions. Additionally, as the public looks out for environmentally friendly businesses to support, WasteNot is providing all its partners with material to help market their participation with the Clark Street Composts program.
Andersonville businesses and civic organizations participating in the launch of Clark Street Composts include Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, Atmoshpere, Bar Roma, Bettie Lou’s, Big Jones, Coffee Studio, Defloured: A Gluten-Free Bakery, FIYA, Forever Yogurt, Gadabout, Kopi Cafe, Kriser’s Natural Pet, Lost Larson, Open Space Early Learning Center, Replay & Elixir, Uvae Kitchen & Wine Bar, Lady Gregory’s, Land & Lake, Robert Jeffrey Hair Studio, Swedish American Museum and sweetgreen.
Aggregating the waste, WasteNot provides measurements and data to their members, detailing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions they are offsetting, not only by diverting food waste, but by selecting a waste partner that operates a zero-emissions fleet of electric vehicles. The benefits of composting are not limited to only providing an environmental solution: keeping food-waste out of back-alley bins means less resources for Chicago’s rodent population and no more smelly trash cans in the home. As a subscription service for both residents and businesses, WasteNot is also determined that Chicagoans see a return for their composting efforts. Twice a year, in the spring and fall, WasteNot returns its compost back to its members in the form of nutrient-enriched soil. Where once compost was used to fertilize agricultural fields, WasteNot Compost’s soil is used to return nutrients to Chicago’s soil strained by over 200 years of industrial and commercial development.
WasteNot Compost owner Liam Donnelly comments, “Andersonville’s Clark Street district is the perfect environmentally-focused neighborhood to pilot our community compost program. Working closely with Andersonville’s Chamber of Commerce, we are proud to implement one of Chicago’s most innovative waste sustainability initiatives, in hopes of providing a model for the entire City.”
Andersonville Chamber of Commerce Director of Business Services and District Manager David Oakes adds, “The Chamber of Commerce is excited to launch Clark Street Composts, an important move toward better environmental practices. WasteNot Compost has been an invaluable partner in assisting our businesses to think sustainably, do the work and aspire to set an example for the entire Chicago business community.”
Martin Cournane, Owner of The Munster Restaurant Group including participating restaurant Lady Gregory’s says, “Our team is particularly excited to partner with WasteNot Compost. We share the strong desire we see among our customers, friends and neighbors to work together to help bring greater sustainability to our community and planet. We have learned so much from the WasteNot Compost team, who made it easy for us to set up an efficient system. We look forward to making ongoing progress by working together.”
40th Ward Alderman Andre Vasquez praised the new initiative, commenting, “I think Clark Street Composts is a shining example of a community and partner such as the Chamber showing leadership that puts our planet first. It creates a model the rest of the city should look to so that we can be not only forward-thinking, but forward-acting!”