Riverside’s residential waste hauler will roll out a pilot food waste composting program, allowing households to combine both food scraps and yard waste in a single container instead of tossing food scraps in with the regular trash.

The village and Flood Brothers Disposal in May put out a call to residents, asking for people to participate in the new program. Individual households can participate by paying an additional $17 per month, or they can share that cost with a neighbor.

“This will be our first community with this type of program,” said Michael Flood, municipal manager for Flood Brothers, which also has contracted locally with both Sawmilly and Riverside Foods on a similar composting program.

“We knew Riverside was a community that cares about its environment, and we thought this would be a good fit,” Flood said.

Those who participate will receive a 95-gallon cart, an under-the-sink collection bucket and a set of compostable bags for food scraps. The program will coincide with yard waste collection, weekly from April 1 through Nov. 30, and allows yard waste and food scraps – including fruit and vegetable scraps, meat, poultry and fish scraps (plus bones), cheese and dairy, solid food leftovers, bread and grains, egg shells, coffee grounds, solid paper and cardboard – to be combined.

So far, said Flood, about 20 households in Riverside have signed up to take part in the pilot program. Part of the payoff for people participating in the composting program is that they’ll be able to receiving compost from Flood Brothers for their own gardens.

Right now, the company plans on making 17 cubic yards of compost available to program participants. Those who have already signed up should be receiving their new carts in the next week or so. 

“Ideally, our focus is that one day everyone has a garbage cart, a recycling cart and a compost cart,” said Flood, who added that food waste makes up 40 percent of what ends up in landfills.

“It takes time and it’s a matter of how to get out front and educate people about it,” Flood said.

 While Riverside is the first municipal customer for whom Flood Brothers has created a composting program, the company has done commercial vermicomposting projects (ones using earthworms to break down food and yard waste) in Carol Stream.

Composting is also a service some other communities, such as Oak Park, offer through their waste haulers. Waste Management handles waste hauling for Oak Park, and rolled out a village-wide composting program in 2013 after a year-long pilot program.

Oak Park resident Sarah Corbin, who has participated in the program since it started, says she swears by it. Corbin lives in a two-flat and shares the cost of the composting cart with the other unit’s tenant. Composting food waste has allowed them to use just one regular trash receptacle for the building, instead of two.

“The first month we used it I was shocked at how much less garbage we had,” Corbin said.

Meanwhile, the compost Corbin is able to get in return for participating is more than anything she can produce in her backyard.

“It’s completely worth it,” Corbin said.

Anyone interested in finding out more about or enrolling in Riverside’s new composting program can visit the village’s website at www.riverside.il.us and click on the “composting pilot program” link in the Trending in Riverside section on the home page.