contamination

The Oops Tag

I have been “recycling” in Chicago for over two years now and the other day finally saw something I had only heard of on the internet…

The Oops Tag.

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First of all, I say recycling in quotes because I do not fully believe that even half of what I have diligently cleaned and separated makes it to a recycling facility.

But anyway, these oops tags were rolled out by the Department of Streets and Sanitation last summer in an effort to educate Chicagoans about what can and cannot go in the blue bin.

The tag is supposed to be marked with what contaminant was found in the blue bin but looks like that did not happen in the above case.

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These blue bins were obviously not mine, but of a neighbor’s down the street. I noticed the tags as I walked through the alley, but I did not snoop in the bins to see what the issue was to warrant the tags.

While Chicago’s recycling rate is the pits, I am not sure these tags will do much to combat that. Now that I live in a building with an alley, people’s blue bins are much more accessible and people toss stuff in other people’s bins all the time. So controlling what happens in your bin is kind of difficult.

 

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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.