Chicago Expands Recycling Program

Chicago Expands Recycling Program

Blue cart recycling initiative will add 131,000 households to program.

February 22, 2013
Recycling Today Staff
Municipal / IC&I

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced that more than 131,000 households will begin receiving blue cart recycling services in March and April of this year as the recycling program expands citywide. The expansion is part of Mayor Emanuel’s 2013 budget initiative to provide recycling citywide.

“Chicago will no longer be a tale of two cities when it comes to recycling,” Emanuel says in a statement. “Adopting new strategies will allow us to expand blue cart recycling to every community in 2013, and residents will soon have greater access to recycling services, which will make Chicago a greener, more environmentally friendly city.”

The blue cart recycling program provides biweekly recycling collection services to residents living in single-family homes and in two-, three- and four-flat buildings. The expansion will include 340,000 households and is scheduled to be complete by this fall. Currently, 260,000 households in the city receive blue cart recycling service.

The Mayor’s Office notes that in October of 2011, Emanuel implemented a managed competition for recycling services to create efficiencies and to reduce operational costs to taxpayers. 

According to Emanuel, in one year the competition decreased recycling costs by $4.7 million and paved the way for the citywide recycling expansion. Chicago projects an annual $19.2 million investment for citywide recycling operations, compared with $31.1 million without adopting managed competition—a 38 percent decrease.

To ensure a smooth transition during the expansion, each of the six city service areas will undergo a gradual expansion of households receiving new recycling services.

Subsequent phases will be announced as collection schedules and routes are finalized. Chicago’s recycling service providers include the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation, Sims Municipal Recycling and Waste Management.

“The Department of Streets and Sanitation and its partners are expanding our service areas in phases to ensure a seamless transition with effective operations and to make certain that current recycling services are not impacted,” says Charles Williams, Chicago Commissioner of the Department of Streets and Sanitation. “We will continue to use the same rollout method throughout the year as we expand recycling throughout the city.”

The blue cart residential recycling program is a single-stream recycling system. Recyclables are picked up and transported in designated recycling trucks to avoid contamination with regular garbage.