Entire Northwest Side due to get blue cart recycling by fall
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
Most Northwest Side residents could wait until November to receive blue cart recycling services as part of the citywide expansion of the recycling program.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced last week that more than 131,000 households will begin receiving recycling services in March and April as the program expands throughout the year.
“Chicago will no longer be a tale of two cities when it comes to recycling,” Emanuel said 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 program provides biweekly recycling collection services to residents who live in single-family homes and two-, three- and four-flat buildings. The total expansion, which will provide services to an additional 340,000 households, is scheduled to be complete in the fall. A total of 260,000 households currently receive blue cart recycling services.
However, recycling is not currently available west of Cicero Avenue. Areas on the Northwest Side that have the recycling program include areas south of Devon Avenue and east of Cicero. The city is divided into six service areas.
“We are figuring out the details and trying to see who has it and who doesn’t have it, and right now we want to make sure that people know how the program works,” city Department of Streets and Sanitation spokeswoman Anne Scheahan said. “This is strictly from an operational standpoint, and we will have the blue carts in all of the city by the fall.”
Subsequent phases of the expansions will be announced as collection schedules and routes are decided on, Scheahan said. Chicago’s recycling service providers include the department, Sims Municipal Recycling and Waste Management.
The city held a “managed competition” for recycling services in 2011. The competition decreased recycling costs by $4.7 million and paved the way for the expansion, according to the mayor’s office.
The city projects an annual $19.2 million spending on recycling operations citywide, compared with $31.1 million without adopting managed competition, or a 38 percent decrease.
“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,” department of commissioner Charles Williams said. “We will continue to use the same rollout method throughout the year as we expand recycling throughout the city.”
When recycling is expanded to a new area, the city delivers the blue carts to the front of buildings, enabling crews to assign the cart’s radio frequency identification tag to the correct street address. Carts will contain information about the recycling program, including the types of materials that can be recycled and the service schedule.
Materials that are accepted in the blue carts are glass jars and bottles, metal cans, aluminum foil and pie tins, cereal boxes, paper towels, flattened cardboard boxes, junk mail, magazines, catalogs, telephone books, paper bags, office paper, file folders, newspapers and inserts, paper greeting cards, wrapping paper, plastic bottles and containers, plastic beverage rings and waxy cartons such as milk and juice cartons.
Alderman Mary O’Connor (41st) praised the eventual citywide expansion. “O’Connor’s chief of staff Jason Hernandez said that the alderman is trying to bring in more stationary recycling bins to the dropoff centers in her ward.
Hernandez said that extra bins have been placed at the dropoff centers at the Caldwell Woods Forest Preserve, 6358 W. Devon Ave., and at the Chevalier Woods Forest Preserve, 5530 N. East River Road, and next month a bin will be placed at the 41st Ward Streets and Sanitation Yard at 6453 W. Higgins Ave.
Other dropoff centers on the Northwest Side are at the City Clerk’s Satellite Office, 5430 W. Gale St., at a site at 4243 N. Neenah Ave., at the Schiller Woods East Forest Preserve, 8700 W. Irving Park Road, and at the City Service Yard, 2817 N. Natoma Ave.
The blue cart residential recycling program is a single-stream recycling system in which all recyclable materials are collected and transported together. Materials are taken to a recycling center where they are sorted, then baled or packaged for delivery to manufacturers who reprocess or reuse the materials.
Residents can call 312-744-5702 to report a full dropoff center bin.
For more information about the blue cart recycling program, visit www.chicagorecycles.org.