Before Oak Park Trustee Deno Andrews started participating in the village's composting pickup program, his household produced a "heaping" can of refuse every week.
"The lid wouldn't close and sometimes we would have three or four bags piled and the lid would be at a 40-degree angle," said in a recent interview.
It was Andrews' wife who convinced him a couple of years ago to sign up for the village's fledgling compost-pickup program, which allows residents to essentially recycle organic material like food and yard waste.
Because of composting, he says the Andrews clan now throws away "one of those small, five- or six-gallon bags in a week."
That's why he was surprised to learn that only about 10 percent of the households – about 1,200 in total – in the village participate in the composting-pickup program.
Andrews said the topic came up at a Finance Committee meeting recently, where officials and village staff discussed opportunities for reducing dumping fees paid by the village.
If the village could get more people to use the composting program – it costs about $15 a month and requires a special receptacle – it also would reduce the amount of material going into the landfill.
"The more people that use it, the better it is for everybody," Andrews said.
Trustees appeared in strong support of his suggestion to make the program free for residents for the first three months. While the potential ordinance has not yet gotten a vote, Andrews' colleagues voiced support for the idea.
Trustee Jim Taglia said he would like to see participation increase to at least 30 percent.
Oak Park Public Works Director John Wielebnicki said in a telephone interview that the promotion, if approved by the board of trustees, would likely not go into effect until early next year.
He noted that the first three months free is a value of $44.56.
Wielebnicki said composting started in a 2012 pilot program and now is available throughout the village.
Those who sign up get their composting bins in about two weeks, Wielebnicki said.
He noted that the compost that is gathered is later made available after material is broken down.
Wielebnicki said the compost is available on a first-come first-served basis at bins located on a village-owned parking lot at the corner of Madison Street and Highland Avenue. One bin at the location is full of compost, which can be used in gardens and lawns, and the other contains brush chips, Wielebnicki said.
Answer Book 2018
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