Illinois Law To Increase Compost Use On State Funded Projects

Illinois Environmental CouncilSPRINGFIELD, IL – Governor Rauner signed HB 4790, sponsored by State Representative Carol Sente, into law. The new law contains two main provisions. The first requires any State agency undertaking a landscaping project using off-site soil to request a bid for compost, and incorporate compost into the project if the compost bid is equal to or less than using soil alone. The second provision requires the Illinois Department of Transportation to conduct two pilot projects using compost and report its findings to the Illinois General Assembly within one year of completion.

Each year, the composting industry in Illinois manages over 500,000 tons of leaves, grass and brush from the State’s residents due to legislation enacted in 1990 banning this material from the landfill.  Since then, efforts have been growing to also divert food scraps from landfills to compost facilities, where the food scraps are biologically treated and made into a final productive soil, or compost.

“Food scraps are now the largest single item we throw away in our landfills, representing nearly 20% of the waste stream. The key to diverting this material is to create more markets for the final product, and HB 4790 will help achieve that goal,” said Representative Sente. “If the State’s agencies realize cost and environmental benefits by using compost on construction related projects, we expect the demand for compost to grow.”

“We are aware that IDOT has used compost on road projects in the past, and this law will give the State an opportunity to study its use and determine if it is cost effective and how it performs compared to soil alone,” said Illinois Food Scrap Coalition Chairman Jennifer Jarland.  “The Coalition is thrilled to see Illinois pass this legislation and believes it will significantly increase the use of compost on future State projects.”

One additional requirement of the law is that the compost used at State projects must be of high quality and meet the requirements of the U.S. Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) certification, or a similarly recognized testing program.

“The Illinois composting industry is proud of the quality product it is making here in Illinois,” said Illinois Environmental Council Executive Director Jen Walling. “This law will help grow the market for made-in-Illinois compost, and make a valuable product out of food scraps and other organic material that would otherwise be thrown away into a landfill where it becomes a problem as it decomposes.”

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