This summer Chicago expanded its blue cart recycling program to an additional 61,000 households. The blue cart recycling program began in 2007 and this expansion will give even more neighborhoods access to recycling services with their garbage pick-up. The program offers bi-weekly recycling collection services to Chicago residents in single family homes as well as two to four flat buildings.
It is a single stream recycling program where recycled materials are collected together by a collection truck and then sorted at processing centers using a mix of old and new technologies such as conveyor belts and as infrared readers. Once sorted the individual commodities are sold to manufacturers who reprocess and reuse the products.
This system for recycling has some advantages such as the fact that recycled materials are not contaminated by garbage or food waste, people are more willing to participate as they do not have to separately store the various recyclable materials, and the City can use the less expensive single compartment trucks when picking up recyclables.
Common items that can be recycled through this program include glass jars and bottles, aluminum, tin and steel cans, cardboard from cereal and tissue boxes, paper and toilet paper towel rolls, telephone books, magazines, newspapers and catalogs, paper bags as well as beverage cartons. Plastic bottles, containers and jugs can be recycled if they have numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 7 imprinted on the bottom, usually inside of a triangle. Items such as clothes, linens and hangers are not accepted and should be recycled through other means.
If you live in a multi-unit apartment building, the Chicago recycling ordinance requires multi-unit residential building owners, governing associations and/or condominium boards to offer the residents an effective recycling program. The ordinance defines an effective program as including at least three source separated recyclable materials, having a written plan explaining to residents how to prepare their recyclable materials, implementing an educational plan for all new residents, and issuing semi-annual quality reports. If your building does not currently recycle, you should call the owner, association or board and request that one be implemented.