Environmental & Resource Conservation Office

The Environmental & Resource Conservation Office receives a number of inquiries each year. Here are a few of the most common inquiries.

(Click the plus sign to expand and read answers)

Can I recycle a television, computer or electronic item?

Electronic waste events occur several times a year in many areas of the County for the convenience of the residents.  For more information, please check the ERCO webpage events listing.  Also please call Karen Campbell at 815-941-3214 or Heidi Miller at 815-941-3229.

 

How can I dispose of landscape wastes?

One of the easiest ways to rid your self of landscape wastes is to reduce what you generate:

  • Use the mulching feature on your mower or tractor.
  • Compost when possible. The Environmental & Resource Conservation Office has high quality composters available for $50.00 ea. Please call (815) 941-3214 or (815) 941-3365 for further information.

If you must get rid of yard wastes, check with your hauler as most have a program for the proper disposal of these wastes. In addition, landscaping and tree services will generally haul away wastes generated from their work.

How do I dispose of paint or other materials collectively known as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)?

To dispose of latex paint, simply let it air dry or mix some absorbent material into it. When dry, set it out for your regular refuse service. You may need to leave the lid off the can to demonstrate to hauler personnel that it is indeed a dry material and not a full, liquid can of paint.

To dispose of oil-based paints or other unwanted household chemicals, check with the IEPA at www.epa.state.il.us for a current list of the one-day household hazardous waste collection events in your area.

You may also check with the Naperville HHW site located 156 Fort Hill Drive in Naperville (located just north of Public Works at Fort Hill Drive & Jefferson Avenue. The facility is open on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. excluding holidays. For more information, call 630-420-6095. For a list of items accepted at this site, lease see page fourteen of the Grundy County Green Guide.

Grundy County Green Guide

Is the Waste Management Department the waste hauler?

No, the Environmental & Resource Conservation Office is a County office and is not connected or affiliated with the private waste hauler — Waste Management. To reach the hauler, Waste Management, please call 800.796.9696.

What are the disposal/collection options for polystyrene (Styrofoam)?A number of haulers in the County who provide regular residential pickup of materials may take such bulk block polystyrene packaging as well as foam “peanuts”. There are also shipping firms that will accept clean foam peanuts and reuse them in their shipping operations.

A number of haulers in the County who provide regular residential pickup of materials may take such bulk block polystyrene packaging as well as foam “peanuts”. There are also shipping firms that will accept clean foam peanuts and reuse them in their shipping operations.

Where can I take corrugated cardboard for recycling?

Most of the time haulers who are contracted for residential recycling programs will accept corrugated cardboard. Please check with your hauler for program specifics.

The Abitibi- Consolidated paper collection bins located at many of the postal facilities and throughout the County DO NOT accept corrugated cardboard in their containers. Please do not place any of this material in their containers as it does not get recycled.

Where can I take my construction & demolition debris for disposal?

According to the Construction Materials Recycling Association, construction and demolition debris (C&D) make up between 25-45% of the waste stream in North America today. Usually such wastes are generated through the private sector by demolition, construction and remodeling contractors. Some of this stream is also generated by dedicated homeowners through remodeling projects in their own home.

A number of items can possibly be reused. Whenever possible, residents should donate or try to reuse any materials that are salvageable. Additionally, the Environtech Landfill located at 1800 Ashley Road in Morris may be able to accept your debris for you for a fee. You can contact them at (815) 941-1800.

Who can I call to pick up white goods?

Due to the hazards of Freon, PCBs and the like, many haulers will not accept such items such as stoves, refrigerators, freezers, etc. If they do, they will generally tack on an additional charge for such a service, while others will provide this service once a year. Please check with your specific hauler for information.

A resident may also wish to contact a metal scrap dealer that may take such items for a fee as well. The scrap dealer may require you to transport the item to them and for you to pay a charge for this service.

 

Composting

Fruit flies have been surrounding the pile, how do I get rid of them?

The addition of dry leaves or soil will prevent the fruit flies from invading your compost bin or pile.

How easy is it to compost and what do we do?

Compost piles should be contained with in a compost bin, chicken coop wire open box, or wooden box with openings for air circulation.

Compost materials should be chopped into smaller pieces to allow for better decomposition and mixed when added. Dry leaves should be added to the top of the pile to prevent the fruit flies and odors from the pile. As materials are added to the pile the pile should be turned.

The nitrogen(green) to carbon(brown) should be 2 to 1 for a complete mixture. Turning the pile and adding water in small amounts will aid in the decomposition process and produce high yields in compost more efficiently.

How long is it before I get usable compost?

Most materials will decompose, if the pile is kept wet enough and turned periodically, within 6 months for winter, or 3 for summer months. All compost piles shall be wet enough similar to a wet sponge.

What can be used as composting materials?

Kitchen greens such as fruit and vegetable scraps, houseplant cuttings, coffe grounds, rice and pasta, eggshell and tea bags.

Yard browns and greens such as flowers,vegetable, plant trimmings, hedge clippings, grass,leaves, straw or hay, small twigs/chips, dried grass and weeds.

Kitchen Browns and greens such as coffee filters, stale bread, paper napkins and towels, dryer lint, hair, vegetable and fruit scrape and eggshells.

What can’t you compost?

No meat, fish or bones, dairy products,oils or fats, sauces, ashes, pet waste, diseased plants, mature weeds with seeds.

What do I do in the winter time with the compost bin?

Composting is a four season event.

Spring: In the Spring you can take out the composted materials out of the bin for Spring planting and kick start the compost pile or bin with soil to get the microbes, worms and other organisms in the pile to decompose the waste materials.

Summer: Keep adding to the compost pile and continue to stir the bin making sure to keep dry material on top and the rest of the materials moist like a dampened sponge.

Fall: Harvest the compost bin and take out all of the composted materials. Add this rich compost material to your gardens and till into that soil.

Winter: The compost bin may still be added to all winter long. It does decompose slower but will compost through the winter and in the spring that process will speed up for spring usage.

What is composting?

Composting is the deterioration of carbon based materials that can be reused as fertilizer. Composting is the decomposition of kitchen and yard waste by microbes, worms and other organisms. Compost or humus is rich in nutrients and minerals.

Vermicomposting

How do I harvest the compost?

Since the worms eat right under the food layer provided, you can remove that layer and remove the rich humus layer at the bottom of the bin. Check and make sure that any stray worms are added to the removed layer back into the bin once you have harvested the bin. The easiest way of accomplishing this is to put out a sheet of plastic and spread the harvested pile onto it and sift through for the worms.

My bin has an odor to it.

If the balance of food to worm ratio is right the bin should smell like humus or earthy. Having too much food within the bin will cause the odor. Also if the bedding material is too wet it will also cause a foul odor to be noticeable.

The worms are trying to leave the bin by crawling up the sides of the bin.

The soil ph may be too acidic. Check the ph level by testing that with litmus paper. The ph level shall be around 7. If the bin is too acidic, crushed lime stone may be added to regulate the ph level.

What do I feed the worms and how do I do that?

The red wiggler worms have a great appetite that will allow them to eat half of their body weight a day. Therefore, careful monitoring of the bin is necessary. The worms do not eat fats, dairy, meats or animal wastes. They do eat paper (non-glossy), fruit and vegetable scraps, yard waste and organic matter.  All food shall be placed deep enough within the bedding to prevent fruit fly population. Bins should be covered to prevent flies also. Once the food is placed within the bin, bedding shall be placed over the food. The bin should be well ventilated and shall be kept out of direct sunlight. Once the food has disappeared (or digested by the worms) more food may be added.

What does a vermicompost bin consist of?

There are many bins that are available for purchase that come with trays for the migration of worms from lower processed trayers to higher beginning bin trays. These bins may also contain a tap which collects the worm urine or worm tea. Worm tea is a concentrate fertilizer that needs to be watered down prior to using on plants due to the high nitrogen percentages (diluted 1:10 ratio). The tea may also be used as a natural pesticide that can be sprayed onto plants once diluted.

The bins begin with bedding either a coir or shredded non glossy paper. Then some dirt and water is added and mixed such that the mixture is as wet as a dampened sponge. Then red wiggler worms are added.

When I lift the bin lid, many fruit flies appear?

The bin material is too wet and dry material or newspaper layer should be placed on the top of the bedding. Check that all food scraps are covered by a layer of bedding.

Where should I place my bin?

Since worms are cold blooded creatures they need to have range of exterior temperatures that will prevent them from over heating or freezing. The temperature range shall be between 40 and 80 degrees. The bins shall not be placed in direct sunlight or have exposure to rain due to the fact that the worms breathe through their skin.  Worms are also sensitive to light; therefore the bins shall be covered. The best place to store the worm bin is within a garage or basement where the temperature stays within the safe temperature range.

Why use red wiggler worms to compost?

Worm composting is a great method in which the red wiggler worms eat the kitchen and yard waste and convert them into worm castings or worm excrement. This material mixed with a bit of soil is extremely rich in nutrients and has been renamed ‘Black Gold’ for its ability to fertilize plants.

Will my bin be able to hold all of the worms once they start to reproduce?

The worms do reproduce quickly but regulate to the size of the bin so they do not over populate.

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