Chicago's Compost Solution

Block Bins

What is Block Bins?

Block Bins provides food scrap recycling bins to Chicago residents.
Neighbors share the bins to reduce cost and clutter.

We want to help Chicagoans divert food waste from landfills. By sharing a bin with your neighbors, we save you money and keep your neighborhood cleaner.

Request a Block Bin » Pricing » FAQ »

How does it work?

Request Block Bin


Chicago residents request a Block Bin for their block.

Fund Block Bin


You and your neighbors can subscribe to the new (or any existing) Block Bin using our website.

Collect Block Bin

Deliver & Collect

We deliver a Block Bin, and collectors start taking your food scrap to composting sites each week.


5 gallons of waste per month
(~1-2 person household)

10 gallons per month
(~3-4 person household)

15 gallons per month
(~5-6 person household)

Contact us after subscribing if you need to upgrade your subscription above the $10 level.

+$10/month to host a new Block Bin

Support composting in Chicago by hosting a new Block Bin conveniently at your residence.

An extra $10 covers the cost of pickups while the Block Bin you host gains support. This charge is waived when your bin reaches its 4-participant funding goal.

Charge is not applied if you subscribe to an existing Block Bin that is hosted by another person.

Subject to availability. We encourage using existing bins if one is already on your block.

Block Bin Lock

Each Block Bin is locked with a 4-digit code that will be emailed to you when you sign up. You can see an example of a subscription page for a bin here.



Keep food scrap out of landfills


De-clutter your alley


Reduce pests and keep your block cleaner


Bins are locked to prevent
spills, stray use, & contamination


Collectors come and go quickly


Create healthy soil for Chicago


Help your neighbors start composting

You can help your neighborhood become more sustainable.

In addition to requesting food scrap collection, you can support composting in Chicago by spreading the word.

Share Block Bins on social media:

Why Block Bins?

Unfortunately, landfilling in Chicago is cheaper and easier than composting. So there's no financial incentive for Chicago's waste providers to offer food scrap recycling.

Block Bins solves this problem by letting your block share a food scrap recycling bin. Compost collection is expensive for individuals, but inexpensive for multiple people on the same block.

As a bonus, since our recycling services are dedicated to one type of waste, Block Bins can recycle materials that current waste providers can't. You can expect more recycling services from us in the future.

Block Bins Logo


Q: What is the size of the Block Bin?

A: We use green 35 gallon bins (pictured here). They are like a miniature version of Chicago's standard trash and recycling bins.

Q: Where is the food scrap taken?

A: The material ends up at an industrial composting facility in Harborview on the south end of Chicago. It is laid into windrows that you can see on satellite view. The finished compost is sold to landscape companies and municipalities to create green spaces.

Q: Can we get finished compost back?

A: Block Bins does not currently have a compost return program. You can get this directly from our composter, but this is better for large volumes. For smaller volumes, we will update this when they provide a list of their distributors, or if Block Bins decides to have a compost return day.

Q: Can I put the Block Bin behind my fence?

A: No. The Block Bin is a drop off point for other Chicagoans to use. They will need access to your bin. However, we may make exceptions if you live in a large housing complex with other individuals who also want to compost.

Q: Why should I pay to compost?

A: You're going to love not having smelly garbage bins in your house. You can also save money on landfill fees.

Recycling your food scrap is one of the easiest ways to combat the major environmental issues we now face. We're importing food from across the world, and instead of creating compost with the scraps that can enrich our farmland and boost crop yield, we're creating greenhouse gasses by burying it in landfills.

Q: Will Block Bins attract rats?

A: No -- Block Bins reduces rats. Rats are a problem in Chicago's alleys because everyone's trash bin contains food. By collecting food waste in a single place, we eliminate food sources. This creates an opportunity to implement reinforced bins and pest eliminators, should they be necessary.

Q: Do the bins smell bad?

A: Generally no. Our aim is to service the bin before bad smells develop, so in the infrequent instance where the bin does begin to get too smelly, customers can let us know that it needs service. We also encourage participants to avoid adding any materials that would cause a smell.

Q: How does funding work?

A: You can subscribe to our bins on the subscription page for your bin. Here's an example of a subscription page. The 4-digit code to unlock the bin is emailed to when you subscribe.

Q: How many people need to participate for service to start?

A: We will still service your bin if you are the only participant and subscribing at $20/month. Your subscription will begin right away. Sharing the bin will both reduce your cost and ensure the bin is financially stable in the long term. We set a goal of 4 participants, which reduces your cost to $10/month.

Q: How do I find the subscription page for my Block Bin?

A: On our homepage, click on a green map marker to get a link to the subscription page for that bin. Alternatively, you can submit a request for a new bin or to join an existing bin, and we will add you to an existing campaign on your block.

Q: Do you provide any containers to collect kitchen scraps in? What kind of container and compostable bags do you recommend?

A: No, we do not provide food scrap containers. You can use any container that suits your liking. Some folks purchase a 5 gallon bucket and line them with a compostable bag. Or you can use a counter top container and use optional liners.

Q: How often is the bin picked up?

A: Pickup frequency depends on the number of participants and temperature outside. For bins with just a few participants, we pick up on a monthly basis during cooler months and biweekly during warmer months. For bins with many participants, we service the bin bi-weekly or weekly. If you think you need more frequent pickups,let us know.

Please contact our team you believe a special pick up is needed.

Q: What happens if I move?

A: You can cancel your monthly contribution any time.

Q: Does the Chicago government know about Block Bins?

A: Yes. Block Bins is a licensed waste hauler in the City of Chicago.

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