Schools & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education (SCARCE) –  An Illinois Food Scrap Coalition Sustaining Partner


SCARCE Logo, image of green globe with blue text and a blue butterfly flying in front of it with a body shaped like a light bulbSchools and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education also known as SCARCE is an award-winning environmental education non-profit agency dedicated to creating sustainable communities. They accomplish this through innovative and hands-on education programs for schools and organizations.  For over 25 years SCARCE has been implementing change to foster a more sustainable future. SCARCE does this by collecting hard to recycle items and promoting composting. 


The composting program started with the Pumpkin Recycling collection. After hosting successful pumpkin collection events, SCARCE created the pumpkin recycling toolkit, which is available at This toolkit allows other communities throughout the state to introduce composting in an easy and fun way.                       


SCARCE is under the leadership of its founder and Executive Director Kay McKeen. In addition to leading SCARCE, McKeeen is highly involved with the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition. She is a founding member and on the Board of Directors. She serves on the End Markets subcommittee, which is committed to developing markets to increase the demand for compost throughout the state. 

Kay's dedication to improve the sustainability of our communities has earned her numerous awards over the years, including the 2016 Illinois Recycler of the Year and one of Suburban Life Magazine's 2015 Women of Distinction.


SCARCE has been instrumental in pushing composting throughout the State of Illinois through its participation with IFSC and by hosting education seminars about composting for municipalities and residents. SCARCE staff has hosted forums in DuPage County to help spread the word, providing education and compost motivational speeches. SCARCE has been recognized for the effectiveness of the programs they’ve developed and their impact on legislation to foster sustainability state-wide.


SCARCE is a gold level Sustaining Partner for Illinois Food Scrap Coalition, providing significant financial support toward expanding food scrap collection and composting throughout the state of Illinois. Because of their efforts, the cities of Glyn Ellyn, Naperville and Wheaton have begun curbside food scrap collection programs. SCARCE is truly a pioneer, leading the way for others in the state to implement food scrap collection programs. Their efforts have been instrumental in increasing the amount of compost available in Illinois. SCARCE, keep up the great work!

For more information, contact SCARCE at 630-545-9710, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also visit SCARCE at 799 Roosevelt Road Building 2 Suite 108, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137, or visit their website  



IFSC is grateful to Midwest Organics Recycling (MOR) for being a Gold level Sustaining Partner. Contributions from Sustaining Partners help further the impact of IFSC's efforts to support and grow composting infrastructure in Illinois. Take a moment to learn more about MOR.Midwest Organics Recycling logo

Midwest Organics Recycling (MOR) is a composting operation located 40 miles north of Chicago in Wauconda Township in Lake County, IL. MOR was established to explore the environmental benefits associated with manure composting while attempting to sustain the viability of one of the last dairy operations in a quickly urbanizing county. Their efforts showed composting to be a viable, more environmentally friendly solution to dairy manure management, and resulted in the development of Organimix brand compost.

Organimix is made from landscape waste such as leaves, grass, and brush, cow manure, and food scraps. It can be used as a soil amendment, lawn dressing, potting soil component or mulch. This value-added compost is certified by the U.S. Compost Council’s Seal Testing of Assurance Program, and is listed by the Organic Material Review Institute (OMRI) for use in organic production. MOR sells Organimix at its facility as well as at select garden centers, nurseries, and some Midwest Whole Foods locations. MOR provides composting services for landscape waste and food scraps, counting municipalities, grocery stores, schools, colleges and universities among its clientele.

Organimix logo, calling the product "King of Compost" and featuring the head of a black and white cow wearing a yellow crown against a green background

By collecting and processing food scraps into a valuable compost product, MOR exemplifies the type of services IFSC hopes to see proliferate throughout the state of Illinois. In addition to being IFSC members and Sustaining Partners, Andy Klink, MOR Site Manager, serves on IFSC’s Market Development Committee

"There are many resources that go into growing food, and not only is important that these resources are not wasted, but also repurposed for a higher use.  We pride ourselves on being the only permitted site in Lake County to accept food scraps. It has allowed Lake County’s efforts in food scrap composting to get some traction. We look forward to being a catalyst for food scrap composting and finished compost use in IL along with the IFSC." --Andy Klink, MOR Site Manager

To learn more about Midwest Organics Recycling, visit their web site at Their composting facility is located between Bonner and Case at 29353 N Darrell Road in Wauconda Township, IL. Questions can be addressed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Our thanks to IFSC member Michelle Gibson of the DeKalb County Health Department for sharing this success story and writing this blog post!

Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins in the United States.  Every year Sycamore, Illinois hosts their annual Pumpkin Festival, a celebration of pumpkins. The weeklong festival presents a great opportunity to compost pumpkins after Halloween.

The Sycamore Pumpkin Festival dates back to 1956, when Wally Thurow, who is known as Sycamore’s "Mr. Pumpkin," began displaying a few decorated pumpkins on his front lawn to turn Halloween into a time of fun and creativity. In 1962, through the efforts of Mr. Pumpkin and the Sycamore Lions Club, the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival became an official celebration in Sycamore.

Every year, the Pumpkin Festival unites more than 30 DeKalb County non-profit groups working to provide a weekend of Halloween fun for all. The Courthouse lawn is the center of activities, including thousands of decorated pumpkins on display, there are also arts and craft shows, a house walk, a pie eating contest, a carnival, a fun fair, a 10K race and other events. The festival is concluded by a giant parade on Sunday afternoon.

DeKalb County (where Sycamore is located) saw a tremendous opportunity in Pumpkin Fest to collect and compost pumpkins.  The DeKalb County Health Department’s Solid Waste and Recycling Program teamed up with Waste Management to make sure the pumpkins were composted.   Over 1,100 pumpkins were collected at Pumpkin Fest in 2016. Waste Management also stationed three collection containers throughout the city of DeKalb for residents to recycle their pumpkins.

Over 8 tons of pumpkins were collected saving 1,720 gallons of water.  It was a successful first step for DeKalb County towards their Zero Waste Goals. DeKalb County will continue to compost pumpkins, each year after Halloween and work on other waste diversion efforts as well.   

large group of decorated pumpkins on the ground in a town square at feet of man with microphone