In 2013, the Illinois Stewardship Alliance spearheaded the passage of two new composting bills in Illinois, H.B. 3319 – Rural Composting (Representative Brad Halbrook) and H.B. 2335 – Urban Composting (Representative Robyn Gabel), that aimed to grow food scrap composting throughout the state, while still ensuring that these facilities are legitimate composting sites and not environmental hazards.
H.B. 3319 allows farmers in rural areas to compost crop residue and other organic agricultural materials from other farms and agricultural operations. This simple change gives farmers access to new materials to create high quality compost.
H.B. 2335 allows urban farms and gardens to compost off-site materials on up to 2% of their property. Many farms in urban areas are dealing with contaminated or questionable soil, making the creation of high quality compost an essential component of urban agriculture. This will give urban farmers the ability to more easily compost off-site materials.
In the past, Illinois Environmental law that pertained to composting fit into the one-size-fits all category. The laws were designed to regulate large scale commercial operations with little thought for the realities of urban farming, community gardens and sustainable agriculture. The two new bills have created scale appropriate laws for composting and have opened new opportunities for urban and rural agricultural operations to compost on their farm or garden and create high quality compost to grow crops.