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Food Scrap Composting
Highland Park’s curbside composting service allows residents to dispose of compostable materials such as fruit and vegetable peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, paper napkins and yard waste in a curbside bin. There are two options for utilizing this new service: volume-based (stickers) and subscription (monthly payment). Please note, the composting service is available if you do not need yard waste services; any customer is eligible to participate in this program – whether you use volume-based or weekly pickup for your trash. Additionally, during the winter months from December 18, 2018 - March 31, 2019, residents may sign up for winter compost pick up which is collected on Wednesdays. Upon subscribing, Lakeshore Recycling Systems will notify residents when their collection dates will be.

Winter Food Scrap Collection Program
Lakeshore Recycling Systems (LRS) is extending the pilot Winter Compost Program for a second year to residents who would like to participate during off-months (December through March). The Winter Compost Program allows participants to place food scraps and/or yard waste in the same container to be picked up every other week. Please note the Winter Compost Program collection will be on Wednesdays, which is different from your regular garbage and recycling collection day.

Residents will again have two options:

1. Use your own cart/can, and attach one sticker per can (check City website for current sticker prices); or,

2. Enroll for the season for a total cost of $96.50 through 3/31/20. (Please note: this program is not being pro-rated.)

If you choose to use an LRS cart, one will be provided at an additional cost of $3/month.

To participate in the program, contact LRS at 847.665.8811. 

Composting FAQs:

What is the compost program?
The compost program is the collection of materials such as food waste, non-recyclable paper waste and yard waste in a separate collection container. This material is picked up at the curb and brought to a compost facility where it is processed into a valuable soil amendment. Organic matter breaks down and becomes compost, which can be used as fertilizer for gardens. Organic waste makes up a large volume of what people throw away. Composting food scraps and yard waste can substantially decrease the amount of waste that we send to our rapidly-filling landfills. Organic materials that decompose in landfills release methane, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

How does the program work?
Curbside composting service allows all customers to commingle their food scraps and yard waste. Any customer is eligible to participate in this program – whether you use volume-based or weekly pick up for your trash. You can use this service for composting even if you do not need yard waste service. There are two options for this type of collection: volume-based curbside collection and subscription curbside collection. Volume-based customers place a waste sticker on their container when it is ready for disposal and bring it to the curb on the same day as their waste and recycling collection. Subscription customers do the same, except there is no need to purchase stickers. 

What can I compost?
Eggshells, banana peels, apple cores, coffee grounds, tea bags, stale bread, carrot tops, citrus rinds, peach pits, beef gristle, onion skins, cherry stems, bell pepper stems and seeds, chicken bones, broccoli stalks, corn cobs, wilted lettuce, dirty pizza boxes, used paper napkins and kleenex, dead flowers, house plant clippings, fallen leaves and trimmed branches—just to name a few! Think of all the waste you can keep out of your trash and our landfills by filling your compost bin instead.

Is compost smelly?
When it comes to odor, compost is just like trash: it only becomes a nuisance if left unattended for long periods of time. Curbside composting gets rid of the mess before decomposition sets in. To prevent odors, make sure to regularly remove compost from the container in your home and occasionally clean your bin with baking soda. For easy clean-up, consider lining your curbside bin with paper towels or paper bags. You can also line your curbside bin with paper yard waste. Plastic bags are not allowed (only certified compostable bags are allowed).

What do I do with my yard waste?
Curbside compost service accepts both food scraps and yard waste—both go into the same bin. If you already subscribe to yard waste service, you can now add your food scraps to the same bin.

What if I don’t need yard waste collection?
You can use this service for composting even if you do not need yard waste service. Simply ask for an organics cart (see below), fill it with organic waste, and put it out as needed using a sticker.

Is there anything I can’t compost?
This service does NOT accept diapers, liquids, grease, pet waste, Styrofoam, or oil. Recyclable items (metal, plastics, newspaper, glass, etc.) should all still go in your recycling bin. Plastic bags are not allowed (only certified compostable bags are allowed).

How do I get an organics cart? 
Lake Shore Recycling will provide a 35-gallon cart for residents that wish to use stickers. To request a curbside compost bin and for pricing information, contact Lakeshore Recycling Systems at 773.685.8811. 

What if I don’t have enough compost to fill up an entire bin? 
The bin doesn’t have to be full to take it out to the curb. Using stickers will allow you to compost only as often as necessary. It is also acceptable to share a compost bin with your neighbors. By pooling your compost—and money to pay for the service or stickers—you can reduce waste and save money at the same time! 

Where can I get a container to collect my food scraps in my kitchen?
Many local stores carry indoor containers to collect food scraps before taking them out to your curbside bin. They come in a variety of styles with different amenities, like charcoal filters. Many are designed to be attractive enough to sit on your counter. Others are designed to go under the kitchen sink. You can also re-purpose an old container to collect food scraps.

How do I sign up for subscription based composting?
To sign up, go to or call 773.685.8811.

Highland Park Composts (For Businesses and Local Restaurants)
Highland Park Composts is a dedicated collaboration between The City of Highland Park, the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO), and Lakeshore Recycling to support the implementation of food scrap composting at local restaurants and businesses. Bright Beat Project Management and Consulting assisted in the project management and implementation of a pilot program throughout 2018 and has laid the foundation for the program to expand into the future.

Businesses and restaurants who participate in the program get access to: 

  • A free waste audit and walkthrough of operations
  • A free recommendation and cost assessment for best practices to divert waste from landfills
  • Bilingual Restaurant training guide for food scrap diversion and recycling
  • 3 Customized laminated posters for recyclable, compostable, and landfill waste
  • Customized Communications Cheat Sheet
  • Complimentary compostable bags (limited supply)
  • Registration with the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition
  • Promotion through the City

Local businesses and restaurants who are interested in signing up for this program should email

Current participating restaurants and businesses include: Little Szechwan, Bluegrass, and La Casa de Isaac and Moishe.