City's recycling needs new ideas
Published October 5, 2004, Chicago Tribune
Chicago's recycling system needs to be recycled itself. Check that: It just needs to be trashed.
From the get-go, the city's blue-bag recycling program was likely to be ineffective. Residents
Problem is, this is largely smoke-and-mirrors recycling. It is a highly inefficient system. Chicago needs to be thinking about emulating what other cities and suburbs do, offering separate containers for different types of recyclables.
Some cities that have attempted the blue-bag system have subsequently abandoned it, says Mike Mitchell, executive director of the Illinois Recycling Association.
According to city figures, about 25 percent of the garbage in the city is recycled. Most folks would hear that and assume it means all that
That is, the recyclables
Cities with effective recycling programs, including many Chicago suburbs, ask residents to segregate
There's a cost advantage--cleaner recyclables can be sold at higher prices. Newsprint is more easily reprocessed if it's clean and dry, rather than soggy or mashed up with broken glass and squished plastic.
Ah, but that only works in neat little burbs like Naperville, Chicago officials say.
But that would be monumentally expensive, Chicago officials say.
It doesn't have to be. Residents could be taught to sort out their recyclables, and not-for-profit organizations could be hired to do the collection. The city also could install recycling centers at several
The Daley administration has done a tremendous job of making Chicago one of the nation's "greenest" cities--from tree planting to sodding the roofs of some new buildings. But the loyalty to the blue-bag program has been baffling.