The primary goal of our Composting for Community Initiative is to support and grow diversified local composting capacity that rises to meet the pressing need to divert food waste from landfills while creating rich soil, sequestering carbon, facilitating educational opportunities, and supporting good jobs. Many policy tools are available to facilitate the rapid expansion of composting for wasted food. Amplifying and highlighting model local and state policies is a critical component to facilitate widespread replication.

This Policy Resource Hub aims to provide guidance and equip policymakers, advocates, community organizations, compost facility operators, farmers, and more to promote policies to advance community-based, local composting.

Fighting Corporate Control

Public policy currently favors large-scale operations, perpetuating inequality through corporate control and consolidation. We work to combat the monopoly power that dominates our waste and food systems with policies that uplift healthy, sustainable local communities.

Building Local Power

To meet our vision of thriving, diverse, and equitable communities, we advance local composting to harness the power of citizens and communities. Through advocacy, research, coalition-building, and policy, we work to amplify community control over local decision-making and hold corporations and governments accountable.

Tools for Local Action

There are many model rules and policymaking tools available to advance and uplift community-driven composting at the local, state, and federal levels. The resources below cover a variety of strategies to further local composting and circular communities with a particular focus on local government intervention.

  • Our Compost Policy Library and Resources features policymaking resources such as model existing policies, legislation templates, policy guides, and more. The guidance is categorized by policy topic and level of government.
  • Webinar Series: Gov’t Support for Community Composting includes six webinars detailing how cities can provide community-scale composting through policy and programmatic support. Webinars cover strategies such as public-private partnerships, local contracting and grants, zoning, capacity building, climate action, and more.
  • Yes! In My Backyard: A Home Composting Guide for Local Government profiles 11 city and county home composting initiatives to share lessons learned and expand adoption. The guide highlights the benefits of local composting to local governments, recommendations to improve local laws, and tools to adopt similar programs, including sample educational and outreach materials, sample ordinances, and more.
  • Our Composting for Community Map is an interactive reflection of our Compost Policy Library, illustrating how communities in the United States pursue composting. This map can filter policies by multiple levels of government and by type of rule.
  • Our collection of graphics on the benefits of community composting can be used by policymakers and advocates to advance policy that promotes local composting.

Food and waste systems are among the most significant contributors to climate change, as evidenced in our breakthrough report, Stop Trashing the Climate. Centering how composting combats the climate crisis is a prominent strategy to advance local policy efforts and bridge access to more resources. The policy resources below focus on composting’s ability to mitigate climate change while improving climate resiliency.

  • CPR Campaign: Resuscitate the Climate is a joint effort to uplift waste reduction and materials conservation projects for federal climate action funding. Campaign resources include strategies and narratives connecting sustainable materials management to climate mitigation, model examples and template language for Climate Action Plans, advocacy resources, and more.
  • Community Composting and Priority Climate Action Plans (PCAP) Guide outlines template PCAP language for community composting, model composting measures, and equity and community considerations under EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program. The guide promotes existing model examples from across the county.
  • Policies on Soil Health and Carbon Sequestration include model policies and resources that promote composting as a climate action strategy. These policies highlight composting’s ability to combat the climate crisis through emissions reductions while building soil health and climate resiliency.

As healthy soil policy adoption becomes more prominent nationwide, there is an unprecedented opportunity to connect compost application as a proven soil health-building practice and to promote composting as part of healthy soil programs. The resources below present a menu of policy avenues to address the critical need to build soil health with compost.

A funding mechanism with a proven track record of raising funds to reduce and recycle waste is a per-ton surcharge on waste landfilled or incinerated (known as a waste disposal surcharge). The materials below provide a deep dive into this policy and funding tool, including ILSR’s template legislation, written and webinar reviews of model existing programs, and ILSR’s contribution to Maryland’s legislative efforts.

  • ILSR worked with Delegate Boyce on the Wasted Food Reduction and Diversion Fund and Grant Programs Bill (HB 1318, Maryland 2024), to support local governments, small businesses, non-profits, schools, farmers, and more with wasted food prevention, rescue, recycling, and composting projects and infrastructure.
  • Surcharges On Waste Disposal Fund Composting analyzes best practices and possible roadblocks for policies that allocate revenue from waste disposal surcharges to fund waste diversion, reuse, recycling, composting, and other sustainability efforts. This article features ten examples of existing regulations and can help guide the development of new legislation to fund composting and divert waste.
  • Use our Model Legislation Template to draft and introduce a disposal surcharge bill in your state or locality to fund waste diversion and on-farm composting. This model encompasses the basics, from funds to cover administrative costs to detailed guidelines for grant programs, and is based on a bill originally drafted by ILSR.
  • Webinar: Funding Recycling Infrastructure via Disposal Surcharges features state agency staff from states with existing disposal surcharge policies who share their experiences with this model, including best practices, challenges, and lessons learned.
  • Waste Surcharges to Fund Composting and More lays out existing State and Local rules that establish a per-ton surcharge on waste landfilled or incinerated to generate funds for recycling, composting, waste diversion efforts, and other environmental programs.

ILSR has a long and successful history of exposing and fighting corporate control in the waste sector and pushing local policies to support a zero waste economy.

Zero waste policies can help advance composting, which is a powerful strategy to build a local circular economy. Composting is inherently local. Locations with the highest waste diversion levels rely on organics recycling to achieve those levels. The materials below comprise recycling and zero waste legislation, zero waste plan development, strategies to tackle policy loopholes, and advocacy resources.

Join the Movement

Advocating for these policy solutions is crucial to advancing community-based composting and zero waste efforts. Exercise your civic power to advocate for policies, programs, and funding to support local composting infrastructure, such as equipment, activities, technical assistance, and training. Push local planners and elected officials to support reasonable policies and regulations, procure finished compost, contract with micro-haulers and local businesses, and provide long-term access to land.


Not sure where to begin? Here are three key resources to get you started.


Farmer using a tractor to spread compost on their field

Model State Legislation: Funding Waste Diversion and On-Farm Composting via a Disposal Surcharge

Yes! In My Backyard: A Home Composting Guide for Local Government


Report: Baltimore’s Fair Development Plan for Zero Waste


Community Composters:

Webinar Resources: Navigating Hauling Permits as a Community Composter

Zoning for Community-Scale Composting


Webinar Series: Government Support for Community Composting


cross section of roots in good soil

Healthy Soils and Compost Policy Guide: Synergies and Opportunities

On-Farm Composting Rules and Permit Exemptions


Webinar: State Permitting Pathways for Advancing On-Farm Composting


Header image credit: andreswd