Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Blue bag blues

I got another email this week I have to share, this time from Sadhu Johnston, Commissioner in Chicago's Dept of Environment:

December 14, 2005 SENT VIA EMAIL

Dear Concerned Chicago Citizen:

Thank you for your email correspondence regarding the Blue Bag recycling program. Recycling is a critical component of the Mayor's goal to be the greenest city and a great example of how individual actions can make a difference in improving the environment.

Your suggestion of separate bins for recycling, yard trimmings and garbage is one alternative collection method that is currently under review. Earlier this year, the City launched a recycling pilot program in the 19th Ward (Beverly) using separate blue carts to collect the recyclables. Initial results from the pilot are favorable from a recycling standpoint with over 20% recycling and 90% participation from residents. However, the cost for implementing the program city-wide is prohibitive and the City is working on ways to improve the efficiency of the program.

Although the Blue Bag program serves the needs of many Chicagoans, additional programs are necessary to meet everyone's needs. Just some of the City's recent recycling and waste efforts are listed below:

· Opening a permanent household hazardous waste (HHW) and electronic waste (e-waste)
facility on Goose Island at the end of 2005;

· Conducting Spring and Fall HHW and e-waste collection events;

· Piloting the use of split-bin trucks in the 19th Ward for the separate collection;

· Traveling to New York City to learn about their separate collection activities;

· Preparing a Zero Waste Plan to identify short and long term actions that the City, residents, and businesses can take to reduce the amount of waste generated and landfilled;

· Evaluating options for landscape and food waste composting;

· Offering battery recycling at Chicago Public Libraries and Walgreens;

· Requiring construction and demolition sites to recycle 50% of their waste in 2006, with an increase to 75% in 2007; and

· Providing the annual Christmas tree recycling at several Chicago Park District facilities on January 7, 2006.

Remember, if you don't have a Christmas tree, just bring a bag of recyclables for a year's supply of blue bags (while supplies last).

Thank you for your interest in recycling. For more information, please refer to the City's website at or call the Recycling Hotline at 312-744-1614. If your waste is not picked up by the Department of Streets and Sanitation, be sure to contact your building manager or recycling services provider for information.


Sadhu A. Johnston Michael Picardi
Commissioner Commissioner
Dept.of Environment Dept. of Streets & Sanitation

Sadhu Johnston

Department of the Environment
30 North LaSalle, Suite 2500
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-7609

too bad he didn't bcc everyone who emailed the city recently to complain about the inefficiencies of the blue bag system, so now we all know who we are.