Mayor Announces Expansion of Recycling to Entire City by End of 2013

recyclingThe city of Chicago announced today the expansion of the blue cart recycling program to the 49th and 50th Wards. However, city officials also vowed to expand recycling pickup to the entirety of Chicago by the end of the year.

“I have been one of the strongest opponents of so-called blue bag recycling, which has been long since discredited,” said Alderman Joe Moore of the 49th Ward. The blue bag program placed the financial burden of recycling on the homeowner and diverted far less than the 25% of waste that was planned for. The more efficient blue cart recycling began in 2009, but until this expansion, only 260,000 households, or 1/3 of the city, benefited from it.

Residents in the two northernmost wards will receive their carts this week and can expect recycling pickup as early as March 1st. This is only the first of four phases this year that ultimately will see recycling expansion to every part of the city, however. “If you don’t have recycling yet, you will have it this year,” said Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams.

Funding for expanded blue cart recycling, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, will be not come from the residential end. Budget efficiencies brought about by programs such as managed competition and grid-based garbage pickup should offset the cost.

“You cannot be a green city and not have recycling citywide,” Emanuel said. He went on to point out the other pro-environment initiatives that the city is undertaking this year, including the closing of the last two coal-fired energy plants in the city, investments in the public transit infrastructure and expanded LEED square footage. More bike lanes are also planned for Chicago streets, including 20 new miles this year. “It is my goal that at every level, Chicago is known as a green city,” Emanuel said.

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