Saturday, July 10, 2010

Where are Chicago's recycling carts?

The Chicago Sun-Times reported yesterday that at least 22,000 blue recycling carts are stashed in a South Side warehouse because the City "ran out of money one-third of the way through" the switch to a long-promised curbside recycling program.

Fran Spielman's linked article suggests that there may be a lot more than 22,000 carts stashed in that warehouse:
Streets and Sanitation employees who've eyeballed the stash insist the actual number is far greater. They say the stacks of carts run 25-deep for at least a block at [the City] warehouse.
Chicago's 600,000 households were all supposed to have curbside recycling by the end of 2011. However, reports Spielman, the curbside recycling program is "now stuck at 241,000 households." The program certainly hasn't reached my corner of the 41st Ward.

The headline on Spielman's article suggests Chicago is throwing away $1 million on the recycling carts. The headline writer got the number from multiplying the admitted number of stored carts (22,000) by the acknowledged $45 unit cost (it comes out $990,000).

But here's my question: Why doesn't recycling make money for the City?

It seems like every private school in the City makes money from recycling newspapers. Someone buys the stuff from the party that's collecting the papers. Those bins are being run as a business, not a charity.

There are all sorts of products made from recycled paper. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 10 encourages lawyers to use recycled paper.

And paper is not the only product that touts its recycled content: Cans and plastic bottles are starting to boast about how little new material they use. People are buying and people are selling. Why isn't the City getting its share? Why aren't we?

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