In the event that waste haulers limit extra services like collecting bulk items, delaying landscape collection and combining recycling and waste in your community, Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability provides the following guidelines and alternatives. Remember: For specifics on your program, please check directly with your municipality or hauler.

1.If there is a delay in the startup of the seasonal yard waste collection service, then you can:

a. Consider backyard composting: Now is the time to start composting your yard waste and food scraps in a corner of the backyard if you have the space. There are many great guides available online about how to get started. Check out the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC) resources on backyard composting.

b. Try green-scaping & lawn mulching: Mulch leaves into the garden beds and leave grass clippings on the lawn. Google either of these terms to find a wealth of guidance online.

c. Look for drop-off options: Check with your county recycling program manager to find an IEPA permitted drop-off location that can take your organics (food scraps/landscape waste) for composting. See the IFSC map of compost facilities. Call ahead to confirm that they are open to the public for landscape waste drop-off.

Do not burn your landscape waste or any other waste. See the EPA information on the hazards of burning waste. Note that the Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability has suspended issuing Open Burn Permits during the COVID19 emergency. Do not fill the air with smoke at a time when people are struggling with respiratory-related illnesses, and do not take the risk of stressing already-overtaxed first responders. Instead, please mulch these organic materials properly, so that they will break down through a natural process.

2. If your hauler needs to collect trash and recycling together on the same day in the same truck, then you can:

a. Reduce your consumption: Up your game with innovative ways to minimize your discards. Reuse everything you can. Reduce your consumption by considering your purchases, including the packaging they come in. Shop for food-items that are less perishable. Do your part in helping maintain the viability of our resource recovery system.

b. Stockpile your recyclables: You can stockpile your clean recyclables in a corner of the garage or basement until this is over. Be sure to keep stockpiled paper recyclables clear from furnaces or other fire-starting sources. If you chose to do this, keep in mind that you will need to feed the volume in over time when service returns, so as not to overwhelm the system.

The Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability works to improve the quality of the environment for all residents of Cook County. For questions, you may reach us at (312) 603-8200 or Follow us on Twitter @CookEnviro.

Have you seen Cook County’s sustainability website?

At Cook County we want to lead by example. At the site you’ll find information about County projects to lower our environmental footprint and our costs.

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