blue cart recycling program

A Recycling Change Up

The other day, we found a weird site outside our building. K called me as he left for work to tell me to look outside. He told me there were 3 recycling carts on the sidewalk with our address on them.

It turned out not to be 3 recycling bins, instead, it was only one recycling bin, and 2 garbage cans that also happened to be blue. WHY DO THEY DO THAT?! Do they really need to make recycling anymore confusing??

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The cart on the left is the recycling cart. The contents of the other two will be headed to the landfill.

After that happened, our black City of Chicago garbage carts were left out on the sidewalk to be picked up and hauled away, and now our City blue cart is gone now too.

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Overall, I am pretty confused right now. Since our building has 4 units or less, we fall into the City recycling program. Why are we suddenly using a private service?

I am going to have to do a little digging because of course we were not informed of anything by our landlord. I will keep you posted!

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Chicago Recycling Round-Up (Hint: It’s Not Good)

My experience recycling in Chicago has not been easy, and I have written about it every step of the way.

Just getting a blue cart for our building was a challenge. I mean, it took 79 days, and numerous follow ups for it to arrive on our curb.

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But once the blue cart arrived, it was not smooth sailing.

For a while, I was placated by the multiple notes I noticed taped to the carts, to serve as a reminder that they are for recycling only. I was comforted that someone cared enough to write the note but also annoyed that they were necessary in the first place.

 

After that, the city-wide recycling drop-off centers began to be phased out and the City released a video showing why plastic grocery bags do not go into your blue cart (Spoiler Alert: It seriously messes up the machinery.)

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Goodbye my dear friend

 

A few months went by without too much excitement, but that must have been the calm before the storm. Our maintenance has had trouble understanding how recycling works, making it even more frustrating, thus why so many blog posts were necessary.

 

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Caught our recyclables being moved from the blue cart to the trash cart

 

Hopefully, now that we are nearing the anniversary of the beginning of this struggle, I the next year should be less eventful.

I promise to keep you updated.

The Never Ending Recycling Saga Part II: Caught in the Act

Follow up to The Never Ending Recycling Saga, My Work Here is Done (Probably Not), A Recycling Conspiracy Solved, and A Recycling Conspiracy.


With the very nice (but slightly disturbing) February weather, I have been opening the windows and our fire escape door to get some fresh air into the apartment.

Even with the windows and doors closed, you can pretty much hear anything that is going on outside our apartment or on the sidewalk.

Yesterday, I heard a sustained rustling coming from the side of our apartment where the trash cans and recycling cart are kept.

So naturally, I went to our door and took a peek out.  Our maintenance guy was moving trash from one garbage can to another, which I thought was kind of odd, but not that odd since he has been moving recyclables into the trash can for a number of weeks.

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These pictures were taken through the fire escape, so just ignore the grates! 

I stood, quietly watching to see what he was going to do next.

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Of course, it was time to mess with the recycling bin! He proceeded to pull a bunch of cardboard boxes out of the blue cart and toss them on the ground, most likely destined for the trash can.

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CAUGHT

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IN THE

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ACT!

I could not take it anymore, so I nonchalantly opened the fire escape door and called down to him. Keep in mind this is the same maintenance guy I previously went out of my way to approach about his recycling thieving actions.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

He just looked up at me and didn’t really give a response. I explained again for the millionth time that the recyclables belong in the blue cart and for him to please put them back.

He did.

Then he proceeded to roll the cart out to the curb even though it was not recycling week…

 

My Work Here is Done (Probably Not)

An update to the following posts: A Recycling Conspiracy and A Recycling Conspiracy Solved


Last week, I was finally able to solve the conspiracy surrounding the disappearing recyclables out of our blue cart.

After an informative chat with our maintenance explaining that it takes legitimately zero extra effort to put the cart out with our trash, there was a lovely site on our curb this morning.

That’s right.

The recycling.is.out.

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A Recycling Conspiracy

There is something fishy going on with our building’s recycling cart, and it is about time I figured out what it is.

Since I am often working from home, I am around to never see our cart out on the curb for pick up. Our building maintenance is in charge of these duties, not the residents. When I do see the rest of our street’s blue carts out, ours, mysteriously, is not.

Some days I will go bring stuff down to the blue cart on the side of our building and then the come back the next day to find the cart nearly empty, even though it was never out for pick up.

While putting Christmas stuff away in the basement, I also noticed another blue cart marked with our street address. Hmm…

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The building has been hoarding a blue cart for their own use!

I took a look inside and guess what it is filled with?

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rock salt…

Nope, Plastic Bags Don’t Go in the Recycling Bin

As I have stated before, Chicago has an issue with recycling. We aren’t good at following directions.

Previously, we were allowed to put plastic bags into our blue carts, but last year the City changed its tune. And for good reason.

Plastic bags wreak havoc on the recycling center’s equipment. See for yourself.

The employees have to stop the work they are doing to go inside the machine and cut the plastic bags out, sometimes more than 3 times a day. What a waste of time and money!

I have been fully aware of this change and why we can’t recycle them in our blue cart, so I often share this information with those who still aren’t aware (this includes my grandmother and K).

Inside my apartment, I store my recyclables in a bin and then transfer them to the cart, eliminating the need for a plastic bag as a go-between. The plastic bags we do end up accumulating sit under the sink until I bring them to a grocery store that has plastic bag recycling.

If you didn’t know why Chicago can’t put their Walgreens bags in their blue carts, now you know!

 

 

No! Not the Recycling Drop-Off Centers!

Compared to other major cities (or any city), Chicago’s recycling rate is pretty dismal. Like really really dismal.

Only 10% of waste gets diverted from landfills.

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That is compared to San Francisco’s 80% and Seattle’s 60%. Yikes.

Anyway, that’s a topic for another day.

The City of Chicago is phasing out its 6 recycling drop-off centers. Back before it took me 79 days to get my Blue Cart, I relied heavily on these drop-off centers to unload my recyclables. I basically used my car as storage until I had enough to warrant a drive over to Lincoln Park.

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Come January 1, all of these will be gone. The new ordinance calls for every Chicago property to have its own recycling program. That is awesome and all, but the drop-off centers should not have to go!

The reasoning for their departure is they need constant servicing and are often contaminated with garbage, clothes, and construction debris. Since all buildings should hypothetically have to recycle or be fined, officials deemed it was ok to scale back on the drop-off centers.

I say hypothetically because larger apartment buildings were already mandated to provide recycling, but it basically was not enforced to the point that the frustrated Chicagoans created www.mybuildingdoesntrecycle.com.

The drop-off centers should stay.

If it took 79 days to get my Blue Cart from the City, I highly doubt buildings are going to get recycling programs set up any faster than that. The centers are great for when you have a lot of large boxes or items that you don’t want to overflow your own Blue Cart with.

For example, our cart is split between the 4 apartments in our building. That’s a total of 9 people and probably some of the neighbors. I can’t just shove a bunch of boxes in there and think it will be fine until it is picked up in 2 weeks.

 

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9 people’s recycling has to fit in here for 2 weeks

To be honest, I have not used the drop-off centers since getting our Blue Cart, but it was still nice to know that it was an option.

If the City is worried about our recycling rate, I think taking away centrally located recycling drop-off centers is a step in the wrong direction.

 

 

 

More Notes on Recycling Totes

While K and I were walking to dinner on Friday, I saw this note taped to a blue cart in an alley. 

The carts already have a sticker on top outlining what should and should not be put inside. Dog poop is obviously not a recyclable, but someone apparently doesn’t know that. It also must have happened enough times that it has caused someone to go through the effort of printing out a sign about it! 

While it is infuriating that people are putting dog waste into recycling bins, it also makes me happy to know that someone out there is taking a stand against it! Nice job random person!

This isn’t the first time I found a note on a tote. You can see that experience here