Mayor Emanuel announced Monday that the City of Chicago will be making changes to the city’s Blue Cart Recycling program including the implementation of managed competition, which will ultimately lead to the extension of recycling services throughout the city of Chicago.
“I promised the people of Chicago that my administration would work to deliver the best services in the most cost-effective way possible. Delivering our Blue Cart recycling program at a lower cost to taxpayers is the first step in making recycling collection available citywide,” said Mayor Emanuel.
Cities across the United States, such as Charlotte, North Carolina and Phoenix, Arizona, have realized significant cost savings by implementing managed competition for their recycling programs. Using both private and public workers, these cities made their service delivery more efficient for their residents. In Chicago, the current Blue Cart Recycling program services 240,000 homes at a cost of $13.8 million to the City. Bids from private sector companies have come in at approximately $6.6 million for the same service areas, indicating a projected savings of more than 50 percent.
This week, contracts will be signed with two different vendors to take over a portion of the recycling pickup services in the city. The city will be divided into six service areas, four of which will be serviced by two private sector companies, beginning in September or October of this year. The remaining two service sectors will be managed by the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation.
Employees from the City’s Department of Streets and Sanitation who currently service areas that will be serviced by the private sector companies will be shifted to other duties within the department to fill vacant positions.
Residents will not see any changes to materials collected or collection frequency, as the contracts include specific performance standards. Additionally, four months after the program begins, 20,000 households will be added to further streamline existing pickup routes. In 2012, there will be additional households added. Ultimately, the program will be extended throughout the city. The City will continue to collect refuse and manage the Recycling Drop-off Centers throughout the process.
The two vendors are Waste Management, which will collect in Areas 1, 3, and 6, and Midwest Metal Management, which will collect in area 5. Those vendors, who were the lowest bidders in each of the respective areas, will have 60-90 days to begin collection services. The City will evaluate both the public and private operations to determine the quality and costs to providing the collection service, and make decisions for the future of this program based on these results.
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