Advocacy Resource: Priority Climate Action Plans Need Community Composting

Date: 5 Dec 2023 | posted in: Composting | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

An opportunity for Community Composting to access EPA funding

The US EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants Program (CPRG) provides funding to states, municipalities, territories, and tribes to (1) develop and (2) implement climate action plans to reduce GHG emissions and other harmful pollution. Nearly every state, dozens of metropolitan areas, and many U.S. territories and tribes have received funding for CPRG’s Phase 1: to develop a Priority Climate Action Plan (PCAP) with input from citizens and stakeholders. 

Only projects, policies, and strategies explicitly included in PCAPs will be eligible for $4.6 billion available through competitive implementation grants in Phase 2. PCAPs are currently being drafted and are due to the EPA before March 1, 2024. ILSR is providing guidance for the inclusion of community composting in PCAPs as a nature-based solution with cross-cutting benefits that fight climate change, advance equity, and cultivate self-reliant communities. 

Download the Guide

Check out our Community Composting and Priority Climate Action Plans Guide: Model Measures and Template Language

This guide outlines template PCAP language for community composting, model composting measures, equity and community considerations, existing examples, and more. It was updated February 2024 to include additional model climate action plans.


How to Get Involved

Watch the recording of our January 24, 2024 webinar for policymakers, advocates, and anyone interested in including composting in their local PCAPs. 

Sign up here if you’re interested in incorporating community composting into your local or state PCAP and staying informed with ILSR’s guidance 

→ Find the participating locality closest to you and contact the lead organization to participate

→ Review the guidance and information below (which will be updated regularly with new resources)


Additional Guidance and Information

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 made historic investments in climate action, including more than $10 billion in program funds to achieve three broad objectives:

(1) tackle climate pollution,

(2) advance environmental justice, and

(3) deliver cleaner air.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is central in administering these programs. The Climate Pollution Reduction Grants Program (CPRG) General Competition provides $4.6 billion to states, Puerto Rico, DC, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), U.S. territories, tribes, municipalities, and air pollution control agencies to develop and implement ambitious Climate Action Plans.* The program aims to reduce GHGs and other harmful air pollution and is organized in two phases: planning and implementation.

Phase 1: $250 million for Noncompetitive Planning Grants 

  • Provides funding to jurisdictions to develop Priority Climate Action Plans (PCAPs) that incorporate measures, policies, activities, and strategies to reduce GHG emissions
  • Projects must be referenced in Phase 1 PCAPs to be eligible for funding through Phase 2 (Implementation Grants)
  • Participating jurisdictions must designate a lead organization to manage grants
  • Funding for plan development was awarded to those who applied in summer/fall 2023:

Phase 2: $4.3 billion for Competitive Implementation Grants 

  • Grants to implement GHG reduction programs, policies, projects, and measures (collectively referred to as “GHG reduction measures” or “measures”) identified in PCAPs developed under the CPRG Planning Grant
  • Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) outlines grant application details, deadlines, and processes
  • Competitive grants that will only be awarded to select projects outlined in PCAPs
  • Eligibility: Applications can be submitted and funding awarded not only by/to “lead organizations” that received planning grant funds but also sub-recipients and contractors to assist with specific projects or to implement one or more measures included in an applicable PCAP.

*U.S. territories and tribes can apply to either the General Competition or the Competition for Tribes and Territories.

A Priority Climate Action Plan (PCAP) is a documented plan reflecting a jurisdiction’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

  • Plans must include a focused list of near-term, high-priority, and implementation-ready GHG reduction “measures”
  • Measures include projects, programs, policies, activities, strategies, series of steps, and actions to achieve plan goals
  • Stakeholders, relevant entities, and eligible applicants should participate in the PCAP development process (Phase 1) to provide input on priority measures and best practices to include in the plan

Funding from the Implementation Grants General Competition ($4.3 billion) will ONLY be allocated to “measures” (projects, programs, activities, strategies, etc.) explicitly included in a jurisdiction’s Priority Climate Action Plan (which are due March 1, 2024** for the general competition). 

Key sectors generally used in PCAPs:

  1. Electricity Generation/Electric Power
  2. Industry
  3. Transportation
  4. Commercial & Residential Buildings
  5. Agriculture
  6. Natural and Working Lands
  7. Waste, Water & Sustainable Materials Management

**PCAPs for the Competition for Tribes and Territories are due April 1, 2024. 

CPRG has specific goals, priorities, and evaluation criteria to guide grantmaking. Measures aligning with these goals and criteria will be prioritized for funding awards. Details on evaluation criteria can be found on page 50 of the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the  Implementation Grants General Competition.

Key Priorities & Evaluation Criteria

1) Reduce GHG Emissions
Achieve significant, long-lasting GHG Reductions
Enhance carbon removal

2) Equity
Benefits to low-income and disadvantaged communities (without negative impacts)
Advance Justice40 goals to deliver 40% of benefits to disadvantaged communities
Ensure accountability by providing clear guidelines/information

3) Community Benefits & Engagement
Achieve community benefits (e.g., reduce air pollutants)
Engage community through meaningful involvement and participation

4) Job Creation & Employment
Job creation and economic growth opportunities
Support equitable workforce development and training
Emphasize job quality and high labor standards

5) Transformative Impact
Scalability across multiple jurisdictions
Replicable approaches for even greater reductions
Deployment and adoption of emerging technologies and practices

6) Efficiency
Accelerate decarbonization across one or more major sectors
Leverage other funding sources to maximize potential

We aim to ensure the inclusion of local and community composting into PCAPs as a cross-cutting and multi-sector strategy.

Climate action plans generally include composting strategies to reduce GHG emissions from landfills and are often confined to the waste sector. Strategies to sequester carbon occasionally include compost procurement and use but are usually limited to agricultural efforts. However, policies supporting diverse, distributed, and local composting infrastructure have numerous benefits beyond emissions reductions and the waste sector.

Grant Priorities 

& Evaluation Criteria

Cross-Cutting Benefits of Community Composting 
Reduce GHG Emissions Reduces GHG emissions through:

  • Waste diversion from polluting landfills
  • Carbon sequestration in compost
  • Curtailing use of carbon-intensive fertilizers
  • Cutting travel distance for hauling and transporting
  • Provides alternative to landfills and incinerators disproportionately affecting poor and Black neighborhoods
  • Low-tech and inexpensive systems build capacity in minority and low-income areas
  • Enhances resiliency for frontline communities hardest hit by extreme weather and natural disasters
  • Creates jobs and facilitates social engagement in underserved communities
  • Provides green space and natural environment in underserved neighborhoods
Community Benefits & Engagement
  • Promotes health and safety
    • Physical and outdoor activity
    • Diversion from landfills emitting harmful pollutants
  • Enhances community climate resiliency
    • Mitigates stormwater run-off via improved rainwater infiltration
    • Combats soil erosion via improved soil aggregation
  • Strengthens food systems and security
  • Benefits are kept local and in the community
  • Creates opportunities for citizen engagement and experiential learning for all ages
Job Creation & Employment
  • Creates more jobs than landfills or incinerators
  • Stimulates local economy and supports small businesses and local farmers
Transformative Impact
  • Can be implemented quickly, is scalable, and is replicable
  • Improves agricultural practices & builds healthy soil
  • Enhances carbon sequestration
  • Cost-effective and less expensive than landfills & incinerators
  • Accelerates decarbonization across multiple sectors
  • Facilitates sustainable materials management developing a local circular economy


Definition of Community Composting

Community composting is making and using compost within the same community in which the wasted food and other organic materials are generated. Community composting (1) keeps the composting process and product as local as possible and (2) engages the community through participation and education.

While many policies (particularly concerning waste) prioritize large haulers and processing facilities – anaerobic digestion (AD), composting, and recycling can be managed by local, distributed networks of independent businesses, worker cooperatives, nonprofit organizations, and local governments. Community-scale solutions include composting at home, community gardens, urban farms, schools, non-profits, micro-scale facilities, social enterprises, and local government sites.

See ILSR’s Hierarchy to Reduce Food Waste and Grow Community

Example Summary of Community Composting as a Cross-Cutting Strategy

Prioritizing the expansion of composting and compost utilization can accelerate reaching net-zero goals while building more prosperous, equitable, and resilient communities. Specifically, climate efforts should (1) increase waste diversion from disposal by expanding mandates and investing in diverse and distributed composting infrastructure, and (2) promote the production and utilization of high-quality compost to build healthy soils. Composting is far less expensive than landfills or incinerators, can ultimately lead to long-term savings, and has numerous cross-sectoral benefits. Composting reduces GHG emissions by diverting waste from polluting disposal, increasing carbon storage in soils, and curtailing carbon-intensive fertilizers. An alternative to landfills and incinerators that disproportionately affect poor and African American neighborhoods, composting also improves climate resiliency against extreme weather and natural disasters that often hit frontline communities hardest. On-farm composting cultivates a more economical and resilient food system, encourages community reliance, and enhances food security. Composting operations also stimulate the local economy by creating new jobs, promoting business and workforce development, and supporting local farmers and small businesses.

Community composting reduces GHG emissions, cuts food loss, enhances soils, supports local food production, and protects the climate while addressing community prosperity and equity issues. Community composting efforts are also cost-effective, can be launched and scaled up quickly, and activate community engagement.

Model Measures in Climate Action Plans

Climate Action Plan Model Measures
City of Santa Monica

Climate Action & Adaptation Plan 2019

Relevant Goals
*Zero Waste: divert 95% of materials from landfills
*Increase community resilience
*Protect vulnerable groups from impacts
*Low-carbon food & ecosystemsZero Waste (pg. 26)
ZW1: Implement Citywide Organics Recycling (pg. 27)
ZW2: Zero Waste Outreach & Education (pg. 28)
ZW4: Implement Pricing Signals to Increase Diversion (pg. 28)
ZW5: Increase Construction & Demolition Debris Diversion Requirements (pg. 28)
ZW6: Implement Material and Landfill Bans (pg. 28)
ZW11: Explore Waste-to-Energy Conversion Technologies (pg. 28)Sustainable Mobility  (pg. 29)
SM5: Sustainable Goods Movement & Delivery Services (pg. 31/33)Low-Carbon Food & Ecosystems (pg. 53)
LCFE2: Increase Productivity of Public & Private Lands (pg. 56)
LCFE5: Climate Resilient Forest & Landscape Management (pg. 56)
LCFE7: Local Carbon Sequestration (pg. 56)Program Spotlight: “To Rot or Not” Main Street Pilot (pg. 26)
New York State Climate Action Council Scoping Plan 2022 Agriculture & Forestry (pg. 271)
AF8. Advance Alternative Manure Management (pg. 287-291)Waste (pg. 315)
W1. Organic Waste Reduction and Recycling – Components (pg. 324-325)
W2. Waste Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling – Components (pg. 325-328)
W8. Recycling Markets – Components (pg. 335-336)
Phoenix, AZ

Climate Action Plan 2021

Waste as a Resource (pg. 94)
WR1: Implement programs to reduce waste, increase the reuse, recycling and recovery of waste materials and promote social and economic value.

  • WR1.4. (pg. 104)

WR3: Increase waste-diversion participation by all residents and businesses.

  • WR3.1 (pg. 108), WR3.2 (pg. 109), WR3.3 (pg. 110)

WR4: Transition to green alternatives from environmentally hazardous materials.

  • WR4.3 (pg. 113)

Local Food Systems (pg. 128)
LFS1. All people living in  Phoenix will have enough to eat and have access to affordable, healthy,  local, and culturally  appropriate food (pg. 140-141)
LFS2. Businesses that produce, process, distribute, and sell local and healthy food will be recognized as integral to the economy and encouraged to grow and thrive in Phoenix. (pg. 142-143)
LFS3.Growing food in Phoenix and the region will be easy and valued, for personal or business use. (pg. 144-146)
LFS4.Food-related waste will be prevented, reused, or recycled via sustainable food production practices that maintain a healthy environment. (pg. 147-148)

Program Spotlight: Zero Waste Team education & outreach (pg. 108) & Green Business Leader Program (pg. 110)

Memphis, TN

Memphis Area Climate Action Plan 2019

Waste (pg. 126)
W.1 Divert Greater Amounts of Organic Waste from Landfills (pg. 132-136)

  • Implement a municipal curbside composting program for yard waste that includes fee changes to incentivize composting.
  • Expand municipal composting facility capacity or consider contracting with a private composting facility for this service.
  • Revise yard waste procedures to generate higher-quality organic compost products.
  • Incentivize the markets for compostable materials, especially in industry and commercial settings, in order to support a circular economy and reduce waste.
  • Advocate for updated state-level landfill regulations that discourage and/or phase out disposal of organic waste in landfills.

W.2 Reduce the Overall Amount of Waste Generated (pg. 138-142)

  • Explore the development of programs and incentives to encourage increased paper/cardboard recycling and food waste composting for commercial, institutional, and industrial sectors, including specific use- or industry-themed competitions or challenges.
  • Collaborate and coordinate with private waste hauling companies to meet waste reduction goals.
  • Consider new regulations that require private waste hauling companies to offer recycling and food waste composting services
  • Advocate for updated state-level landfill regulations that discourage and/or phase out disposal of food waste in landfills.
  • Explore future implementation of a municipal curbside composting program for food waste that would increase food waste composting from the residential sector

W.5 Expand Education & Outreach Efforts to Encourage Behavior Change (pg. 158-162)

  • Launch outreach and education campaigns to inform and support residents about waste management in their community, including programs they can take part in and information regarding how to properly dispose of waste.
“EPA has prepared the following illustrative list of potential GHG reduction measures for which applicants may choose to seek CPRG implementation grant funding. This list is neither exhaustive nor definitive with respect to the measures that may be included in competitive applications under this NOFO.”

We have highlighted specific measures below that could connect to advancing composting.

“EPA has prepared the following illustrative list of potential GHG reduction measures for which applicants may choose to seek CPRG implementation grant funding. This list is neither exhaustive nor definitive with respect to the measures that may be included in competitive applications under this NOFO.”

We have noted specific measures in bold below that could connect to advancing composting.

Transportation Sector 

  • Programs to increase the share of electric light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles and to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • Electrification requirements for state, municipal, territorial, and tribal vehicle, transit, or equipment fleets
  • Transportation pricing programs that reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT), such as parking pricing and congestion and road pricing
  • Policies to support transportation management incentive programs to reduce vehicle trips or travel and expand transit use, such as van-pool programs, ridesharing, transit fare subsidies, and bicycle facilities 
  • New or expanded transportation infrastructure projects to facilitate public transit, micro-mobility, car sharing, bicycle, and pedestrian modes
  • Incentive programs to purchase zero-emission vehicles and equipment to replace older heavy-duty diesel vehicles and equipment
  • Programs to increase efficiency and reduce GHG emissions at ports and freight terminals, such as vehicle or equipment idle reduction, vessel-speed reduction, equipment electrification, and shore power
  • Update building and zoning codes to encourage walkable, bikeable, and transit-oriented development
  • Encourage mode shift from private vehicles to walking, biking, and public transportation (e.g., complete streets, bike share programs, bike storage facilities, low-speed electric bicycle subsidies, public transit subsidies) 

Electric Power Sector

  • Renewable portfolio standards and/or clean electricity standards
  • Energy efficiency portfolio standards
  • Emission trading systems (e.g., cap-and-trade programs) and carbon pricing measures
  • GHG performance standards for electric generating units
  • Installation of renewable energy and energy storage systems on municipal facilities
  • Programs to support smart-grid and/or behind-the-meter technologies to reduce power losses, reduce peak demand, and enable consumer participation in distributed generation
  • Targeted incentives for installation of renewable energy and energy storage systems on commercial and residential buildings, such as net metering, tax credits, rebates, and streamlined interconnection standards
  • Policies and measures to streamline permitting for renewable energy projects
  • Development of distributed or community-scale renewable energy generation, microgrids, or vehicle-to-grid infrastructure in disadvantaged communities, including remote and rural regions

Building Sector

  • Adoption and implementation of the most up-to-date building energy codes or stretch codes for new commercial and residential buildings  
  • Implementation of a clean heat standard
  • Incentive programs for implementation of end-use energy efficiency measures in existing government-owned, commercial, and residential buildings
  • Incentive programs for the purchase of certified energy-efficient appliances, heating and cooling equipment, lighting, and building products to replace inefficient products
  • Programs and policies to promote electrification of government-owned, commercial, and residential buildings
  • Programs and policies to accelerate the incorporation of efficient electric technologies and electric vehicle charging at new single-family, multi-unit, or affordable residential buildings and commercial buildings, including building codes related to electric vehicle charging Implementation of a building energy performance management program for government-owned buildings
  • Implementation of a new benchmarking and building performance standards
  • Programs to promote recovery and destruction of high-global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in existing appliances, air conditioning systems, and commercial chillers

Industrial Sector

  • Standards addressing GHG emissions from industrial facilities and from energy production sectors, including emissions from industrial process heat and industrial processes
  • Programs to support or incentivize implementation of energy efficiency measures in industry, including energy audits, strategic energy management, equipment upgrades, and waste heat utilization
  • Programs to support or incentivize GHG reductions in industrial energy use and industrial processes, including use of low/no carbon fuels, electrification, renewable energy, and process improvements
  • Programs to develop, expand, and support markets for low-embodied carbon materials and products, such as cement and steel 

Waste, Water, and Sustainable Materials Management Sector

  • Standards and incentives to reduce methane emissions from landfills and wastewater treatment facilities, including through collection for use or destruction  
  • Programs and incentives to reduce or divert waste (including food and/or yard waste) through improved production practices, improved collection services, and increased reuse or recycling rates 
  • Programs and incentives to reduce GHG emissions associated with plastics production, use, and waste management 
  • Programs to expand composting and bio-digestion infrastructure to reduce GHG emissions and increase beneficial use of organic waste 
  • Policies and programs to reduce construction and demolition waste through building reuse, deconstruction, and material diversion and reuse
  • Installation of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures at wastewater treatment facilities

Agricultural Sector

  • Incentive programs to fund electric agricultural equipment technologies
  • Incentives for technologies and techniques that reduce nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizer application 
  • Incentives to promote anaerobic digesters to capture methane and generate renewable energy or produce renewable fuel

Carbon Removal Measures

  • Policies to promote improved forest management to enhance carbon stocks on forested land
  • Urban afforestation and green infrastructure programs and projects 
  • Restoration of degraded lands (e.g., brownfields, mine reclamation) and forested lands to enhance carbon sequestration 
  • Policies to enhance carbon stocks in coastal estuaries, such as wetlands and mangroves.
EPA CPRG Resources for General Competition 

EPA CPRG Resources for Competition for Tribes and Territories Only 

Additional EPA Resources

Policy Resources from ILSR

Additional Resources


Julia Spector - Research and Policy Associate
Follow Julia Spector:
Julia Spector

Julia Spector is the Research and Policy Associate for the Composting for Community Initiative. She works to amplify the team’s policy and advocacy efforts to advance community composting from the local to the federal level. Julia has dedicated her career to promoting social and racial justice, working at organizations focused on democracy, economic, and youth issues.

Najee Quashie - Research Fellow
Follow Najee Quashie:
Najee Quashie

Najee Quashie is a Research Fellow with ILSR’s Composting for Community Initiative. He supports the team's work in increasing access to funding for BIPOC community composters in New England coastal states. Najee received his Master’s degree in Public Administration from Seton Hall University and is interested in the dynamic between policy development and implementation at the local level.