Emanuel pledges citywide recycling in 2013
Posted on April 7, 2012 by Be Chicagood
For a city that is striving to be a world renown green city, Chicago has struggled to introduce a citywide recycling program for its residence. All that will all change after Mayor Emanuel announced Friday that the city will be bringing blue cart recycling to every Chicago home that doesn’t have it yet.
Currently some 261,000 households enjoy recycling pick-up from blue bins in their alleys, while another 340,000 don’t have the service. For those that don’t have service, it can get a little confusing. One option is you can take your recyclables to one of the city’s 33 drop-off centers and hope the bins there aren’t already too full. If you live in a building with more than four units, your garbage is picked up by private waste haulers. Your landlord is required by law to offer recycling service, but most don’t and the city rarely enforces that law. Other Chicagoans will bring the recyclables and periodically drop them into other people’s blue bins in the alleys or the recycling receptacles located throughout the loop. Or if you’re like most other Chicagoans, you say “To HELL WITH THIS” and throw it in the trash. Not the type of attitude and culture you want Chicagoans having.
Former Mayor Daley wanted to bring the blue cart recycling program to Chicago back in 2008, but the city was never able to expand the program to cover every residence. Why is the current mayor able to pick up where Daley wasn’t able to? Daley introduced a tactic before leaving office, allowing partial or potentially full privatization by hiring companies to compete with city crews for the work. Rahm Emanuel is picking up the idea and running with it. Emanuel said the cost of recycling has been cut by $2.2 million in the six months since Waste Management and Metal Management Midwest started competing with city crews. The mayor said the savings will be used to bring bins to the remaining homes.
Daley eventually moved to the suburban-style bins after the city spent more than a decade with a failed recycling program that required Chicago residents to put their recyclables in separate blue bags. When Daley pulled the plug on blue bag recycling in 2008, he said the bins would be in all 50 wards by 2011, but he never got there because of the cost.
The Emanuel administration isn’t certain how much expanding the program to the rest of Chicago will cost, because city crews and the private companies still are competing for work. There’s also no assurance either Waste Management and Metal Management Midwest will do it for the same prices they now offer. Recycling crews have been reduced from 44 people down to 32, according to the city. The remaining crews achieved efficiencies by having the driver and laborer meet at the same location, cutting time on the road. Routes and schedules also were redrawn and city workers start their days closer to their pickup sites.
Good Magazine recently published an infograph looking at why Americans don’t recycle. The numbers are pretty pathetic. Just half of the Americans recycle daily and a good 13% don’t even recycle at all. Much of it can be blamed on the lack of education and resources people have to recycle. Do you know if cardboard boxes can be recycled in your city? How about plastic bags? With the city rolling out the new recycling services to more people throughout the city, maybe they should take some time to educate the public about the benefits and process of recycling as well.