Blue Cart Program

The Never Ending Recycling Saga

This seems to never end.

I previously posted about how I finally got our maintenance to stop stuffing the recyclables from our blue cart into the trash cans so they could avoid putting out the blue cart in the first place.

It was a short-lived win.

Today, the garbage cans were out.  There was no blue cart in sight even though it is recycling week (Chicago operates on a once every other week pick up schedule).

Out of curiosity, I went down to check out if there were any recyclables that had been confiscated from their rightful place in the blue cart.


Sure enough, there were.

And I know these weren’t in the trash can to begin with because those are our recyclables. That’s K’s beer can and our tomato sauce can. I would never have put them in there.

Reluctantly, I trudged to the side of our building to retrieve our blue cart, at the same time that my neighbors were just getting home. I asked if they used the blue cart.

They do, and that launched them into an enthusiastic response of how upset they were that it’s not being handled correctly. They have called and left notes, but alas nothing had changed.

That meant I got to call maintenance again. He is probably going to start screening his calls now. I had to explain yet again that all they needed to do was take out the cart on the same day as garbage. THAT. IS. IT. No extra effort on their part is involved.



Out of pure frustration and annoyance, I took all the recyclables and put them back in the blue cart.



A Recycling Conspiracy Solved

An update to A Recycling Conspiracy 

As I was putting some food scraps into my compost bucket on the fire escape, I heard some noise coming from below. I stealthily closed the door and took a peek back outside.

To my surprise, there was one of our building’s maintenance men pulling recyclables out of our blue cart and stuffing them into the black landfill cart!

I watched for a few minutes to make sure what I was seeing was correct.

Suddenly I was overcome with frustration and I ran to throw on my coat and go and confront the recycling thief.

Unfortunately, this maintenance worker did not speak much English, so I was not sure how much my message was getting across. I tried to explain that the paper and the plastic we have been painstakingly been putting in the blue cart, should stay in the blue cart, to be recycled.

I did what I could there and went back up to call our usual maintenance man and explain the situation.

Here are some key points from his super logical explanation:

  • Yes, they have been taking recycling out of the blue cart
  • Recycling pick up is not every week so they just can’t take it out
  • The maintenance guy only comes on certain days so he doesn’t want to leave the blue cart out on the curb because people will throw trash in it…..(umm…excuse me!?)

Garbage and recycling get picked up on the same day for us, so he has no idea what he is talking about.


Basically, it is going to come down to me taking out our blue cart on recycling day. I don’t trust them anymore.



79 Days to Receive My Blue Cart

See how this escapade started here: Part 1 and Part 2

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Have heard nothing and received nothing so far. Maybe I will call again this week…

If I am a resident who actually is concerned and wants to recycle, I can only imagine how quickly this experience would turn someone off from getting a blue cart who is not that concerned.

Friday, June 17th, 2016

(cricket noises)

I decided to call again, saying this was the third time I had inquired about where my cart is. I was told that the ward superintendent  was emailed about the issue on June 9th, but nothing had happened since then. Again they made a note that I had checked in about it, and they said they would try one more time to get in touch with the ward superintendent.

I am not crossing my fingers.

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

This morning, I was riding my bike back from my workout when lo and behold, there was my blue cart sitting on the curb next to the garbage cans (it is garbage day)! Hallelujah!


It was a miracle! I quickly run upstairs and emptied my recycling bin into my blue cart. What a feeling! Now that this endeavor is finally over, I put some numbers together to make this fancy infographic about my experience.

how long did this take-



All in all, this took just too long. The average person is not going to bother with this if that is how long it takes.

How Long Will It Take to Receive My Blue Cart? Part 2

See Part 1 of this escapade here: How Long Will It Take To Receive My Blue Cart? Part 1

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

32 days after it was submitted, I received an email from the City Council Ward team that they have resolved my “recycling services” request.

I went to take a peek at where our garbage cans are kept and saw no blue cart. Womp Womp.

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

I have been checking periodically to see if a blue cart magically appeared and it had not. Basically, I was giving the City the benefit of the doubt. Things take forever and I know that. At this point, it had been well over the “at least five weeks” I was told, so I gave my alderman’s office a call.

They did apologize that I have not received my cart yet, and said they will contact the City again about it. A new service request was submitted. The office said if I did not get it by next Monday, I should call back.

This same day, I saw a segment on WGN news about where Chicago’s recycling goes.

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

I was supposed to get my cart by now. No cart. I will be calling the office back tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016 

Just called the office. Since the service request from last week is still open, they cannot start another one. I was told that my request number will be given to the ward superintendent to find out what is up. The hold up could be that there are a lot of requests for carts and there is a backlog, or the truck could be coming any day now.  It was mentioned again that it may take 5-6 weeks. Awesome.

Either way, I did not get a real response on when I will get it. I left my email and phone number with them to reach out to me if they find out a more specific timeline.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

I have been waiting for 52 days or over 7 weeks now.

Stay tuned for part 3 of this experience…




How Long Will It Take to Receive My Blue Cart? Part 1

Now that I am all moved in, it is time to get the City of Chicago’s Blue Cart Residential Recycling Program in my multi-unit building! Here is the timeline on how that went down so far.

Sunday April 3rd, 2016

Emailed my Alderman’s office asking how to get a recycling tote for my building. It didn’t explicitly say on their website how to go about requiring one, so I just emailed the office. This is what it says in regard to recycling:

“The Blue Cart program provides bi-weekly recycling services to single family homes and multi-unit buildings with four or fewer units.  By recycling regularly, you can help reduce the need for landfills, lower disposal costs, reduce pollution and conserve natural resources, such as timber, water and minerals.”

Monday April 4th, 2016

Received a response from a City Council staff member for my Ward asking how many units there are in my building. So I quickly responded with an answer of 4 units.

Amazingly it only took 8 minutes to get another response with the following information:

The good news: the request will be processed immediately

The bad news: it can take at least 5 weeks to receive a blue cart and  I was advised to “be patient.”

Tuesday April 5th, 2016

Obviously have not heard a response yet, but the recycling pile is growing….

Sunday April 10th, 2016

At this point the recycling has to go somewhere and I refuse to throw it out. Therefore it is now in my car until I take it to one of the recycling dumpsters.

Wednesday April 13th, 2016

The big boxes to recycle are still in my car. I have yet to make it to a recycling dumpster, but garbage/recycling day was today so I stealthily brought my recycling bin from the apartment down and dumped it in a neighbor’s blue cart that was out for pick up.

Wednesday April 20th, 2016

Finally brought the big boxes to the residential recycling drop off center at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. There are a number of these around Chicago and you can learn more about where they are here.

recycling drop off

Monday April 25th, 2016

Still nothing. Now I am wondering if I get some type of email notifying me that my blue cart has been delivered, or just hope that it shows up one day next to our garbage cans?

I will keep you filled in! Look out for Part 2!