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Between our dedicated staff and ever-growing legion of extraordinary volunteers, we have centuries of experience building, teaching and cultivating local circular economies. Together, we’re working to change the way we, as a city, think about our food and our environment.


Our mission is to cultivate local circular economies.

We envision a paradigm shift in production, consumption and waste driven at the local level, generating equity and economic opportunity for all residents.

What is a Circular Economy?

At the facility scale, a circular economy can be described as conventional waste streams from one process being re-purposed as inputs for another, creating a circular, closed-loop model of material reuse.

At the local scale, it can be described as a collaborative economic practice sustained by local circulation of materials, nutrients, knowledge, and money. It’s empowered by transparency, diversity, and inclusion. Read more here.

We equip people and businesses with the tools to live more sustainably through community-driven, hands-on programs and innovative research projects.


Plant Chicago was established in 2011 as the anchor for the project known as The Plant, a collaborative community of food businesses on the southwest side of Chicago. For 8 years, Plant Chicago supported the ever evolving project and brought tangible benefits to the surrounding community.  

We are now in the process of renovating an abandoned firehouse as a center for circular economy programming in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago. More on Plant Chicago's history can be found here


Our Auxiliary Board is a diverse group of young professionals who support Plant Chicago's activities + programs.

Rohit Agarwal, West Monroe Partners
Alex Ansari, Alveole

Mark Doose, West Monroe Partners

Charles Espedido, Environmental Leadership Program

Stef Funk, Chicago Food Policy and Action Council
Andre Gordillo, Freight Broker Logistics

Kassandra Hinrichsen, Common Threads

Tara Larrue, Civis Analytics
Judy Li, Energy Foundry
Eric Pearson, Xylem
Erica Ruggiero, McGuire Igleski & Associates
Emily Rhea, Eco Achievers
Tommy Straus, The Urban Canopy
Cecilia Tobias, State of Illinois Department of Human Services

Justin Tringl, Illinois Institute of Technology

Our Circular Economy Advisory Committee is composed of academic and industry professionals who guide our work to cultivate local circular systems.

Ning Ai, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Dept. of Urban Planning and Policy; Research Associate Professor, Inst. for Environmental Science and Policy 

University of Illinois at Chicago


Weslynne Ashton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainability
Stuart School of Business, Illinois Institute of Technology

Stephanie Katsaros, Founder

Bright Beat Consulting

Nancy Landrum, Ph.D., Professor, Sustainable Business Management
Quinlan School of Business, Loyola University


John Mulrow, Ph.D. candidate, NSF Research Fellow
University of Illinois 

Andre Nogueira, Ph.D, Visiting Scientist
Harvard T.H. Chan school of Public Health

Shantanu Pai, Sustainability Researcher
Illinois Sustainable Technology Center


Sabina L. Shaikh, Ph.D., Director, Program on Global Environment; Senior Lecturer, Environmental Studies and Public Policy Studies
University of Chicago

Tessa Vierk, Co-Founder

Chicago Tool Library

Zach Waickman, Biodiesel Lab Manager, Sustainable Business Management
Loyola University