By Liz Kunkle, IFSC Policy Committee Co-chair


Recognizing the urgent need to protect natural resources and minimize activities contributing to climate change, the State of Illinois, the Chicagoland Region, and the City of Chicago undertook recent studies and assessments of actions and initiatives that will facilitate climate change mitigation, which is action that will avoid and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change adaptation, which is action that equitably adjusts to climate changes that are inevitable if not happening already. These studies and assessments culminated in a state-level report, a regional plan, and a citywide strategy, all of which were released in the summer of 2021.

The Materials Management Advisory Committee (MMAC) submitted its Report to the Illinois General Assembly (ILGA) on July 1 (State Report). The Climate Action Plan for the Chicago Region, the first of four regional U.S. climate action plans, was released on July 13 (Regional CAP). Chicago released its 2021 City of Chicago Waste Strategy on July 14 (City Strategy). 

This Summary focuses on the provisions in the State Report, Regional CAP, and City Strategy that relate to food scraps, food waste, and compost/composting.  For a more detailed summary with graphs, statistics, and case studies, go HERE.


A. Background: The MMAC was created in the summer of 2019 and directed to accomplish an ambitious set of goals, primary of which was to establish achievable landfill diversion goals for 2025, 2030, and 2035. The MMAC considered “sustainable materials management” (SSM), an approach that includes a much broader range of strategies than traditional waste management. SSM, as defined by the EPA “is a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles.”
To achieve its goals, the MMAC was organized into five subcommittees that focused on specific subject matters: Education and Outreach, Infrastructure, Market Development, and Local Government Support. Each subcommittee authored a scope of work and created recommendations designed to accomplish the MMAC’s objectives that were within the subcommittee’s area of expertise. The recommendations were considered and formulated within the context of a systems-wide perspective and evolving market landscapes. The MMAC then compiled the subcommittees’ recommendations into the final State Report that was presented to the ILGA on July 1, 2021.

B. Summary of Relevant Provisions/Recommendations:

  • Current context
    • Only 6 of 48 permitted compost sites reported accepting food scraps in their 2019 annual reports.
    • 500,000 tons of landscape waste are diverted per year.
    • Almost 5,000,000 tons of food scraps and food-soiled paper waste are not but could be diverted per year.
      • This is about ⅓ of the total landfill stream in IL
      • Food scraps (2.6M tons) + compostable paper waste (2M tons)
  • Establishes statewide landfill diversion targets of 40% by 2025, 45% by 2030, and 50% by 2035 (current diversion rate is 37%).
  • Recommends the establishment of a Materials Management Market Development Advisory Board at the University of Illinois.
    Calls for a coordinated statewide market development grant program.
  • Recommends additional IEPA funding for grants to expand statewide materials management programs, including infrastructure enhancement; a statewide waste reduction campaign; updating county solid waste management plans; and a statewide data management and tracking platform.
  • Requests the ILGA discontinue the practice of sweeping monies from the Solid Waste Management Fund to other state funds.

C. Next Steps: Encourage ILGA to act on the recommendations
Ask individual state representatives to introduce/co-sponsor in Jan. 2022, the beginning of the spring 2022 legislative session.


A. Background: The Regional CAP is the culmination of more than 16 months of work, beginning in August 2019 and incorporating the input of more than 270 representatives from 175 organizations and more than 50 municipalities and counties throughout the state. This effort was led by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, working in concert with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and using NOAA’s U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit. The Regional CAP was released and introduced to the public on July 13, 2021.

B. Summary of Relevant Provisions: The Regional CAP encompasses two goals, each with its own interim targets and objectives: 1) net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; and 2) persistent, equitable climate adaptation. The strategies contained in the Regional CAP are specifically tailored for action at the municipal level, as municipalities are uniquely positioned to lead, enact policies, and encourage others to take action. The strategies flow from the Greenest Region Compact, which is informed by dozens of preceding Chicago area climate action plans and tools, and are aligned with Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy targets.

  • Climate Mitigation Goal: Net Zero GHG Emissions
    • Target reductions, all from 2005 levels: 50% by 2030, 65% by 2040 and 80% by 2050.
  • Climate Adaptation Goal: Persistent, equitable climate adaptation
    • Interim targets: climate-resilient governance by 2030, resilience across all jurisdictions by 2040, and cohesive, resilient communities by 2050.
  • Recognizes, and articulates in the introduction, that robust community recycling and composting, and strong markets for using these commodities, are needed.
    • “Manage Water and Waste Sustainably” is one of eight Mitigation Goals.
    • Strategies identified to reach this objective are: increasing composting and utilizing compost; increasing the volume of waste that is recycled and composted; and more.

C. Next Steps: Municipalities have been asked to lend their support to the Regional CAP by adopting this Resolution at an upcoming Board meeting. The Resolution is a simple recitation of the core goals and objectives of the Regional CAP. If the Resolution is adopted, municipalities are encouraged to share a signed copy of the Resolution with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus to facilitate regional momentum, cooperation, and collaboration.


A. Background: Recognizing that landfilling and waste processing are potent sources of harmful GHG emissions that accelerate climate change, the City Strategy is the culmination of a year-long effort to develop a plan and implementation strategy to overhaul the City’s traditional waste system and rebuild its overall health and function. The City partnered with Delta Institute, a consulting firm specializing in municipal solid waste management planning, to look at the many interrelated aspects of waste in the City, and engaged a range of stakeholders. The City Strategy consists of sixty-three recommendations intended to lead to a reimagined waste system, and was released by Mayor Lori Lightfoot on July 14, 2021.

B. Summary of Relevant Provisions:

  • In 2020, the City of Chicago generated 4.13 million tons of “waste” materials.
  • New approach prioritizes intervention before materials enter the waste stream.
    • Designed to minimize landfilling, improve recycling rates, drive new and innovative approaches for composting and materials reuse, and bolster new economic opportunities needed by communities and residents.
    • Seeks to reframe Chicago’s materials as resources, not waste.
    • Centers equity and environmental justice in program design.
  • Because the City Strategy is focused on waste, there is an entire section with numerous recommendations relating to “Organics and Food Waste”, including:
    • Leverage the NRDC Food Matters Great Lakes Regional Cohort participation to conduct a food rescue assessment.
    • Launch a citywide food rescue program.
    • Establish permanent organics and food scrap drop off sites for residents at the Ward or Sanitary District level.
    • Introduce drop off locations through Pumpkin Smash events.
    • Improve existing yard waste collection program and incorporate food scrap ride-along options.
    • Provide opt-in curbside organics collection for residents served by DSS.
    • Provide information about current organics hauling services to high density residential buildings.
    • Identify partnership and support opportunities for industrial, commercial, and institutional entities implementing food waste diversion programs.
    • Require the largest food waste generators to divert food waste through donation or composting.
    • Incorporate food donation and food scrap composting into City events to reduce organic waste and provide high-profile educational opportunities.
    • Incorporate more finished compost into City landscaping maintenance.
    • Support increased backyard and community garden composting.

C. Next Steps: Urge the City to implement the recommendations in the City Strategy.


Ask your state representative to introduce or co-sponsor a bill that incorporates the recommendations contained in the State Report.

Encourage your municipalities to adopt the Resolution in support of the Regional CAP and begin taking steps to implement the strategies contained in the Regional CAP.

Urge the City to implement the recommendations contained in the City Strategy.