Press Release
April 11, 2013

Mayor Emanuel Announces $18 Million In Savings from Grid Garbage Transition

Efficient Grid System Now Implemented Citywide
Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today the City of Chicago will roll out the final phase of the grid garbage collection system to approximately 90,000 households on Chicago’s far south and southwest sides beginning April 15, 2013.  As a result of the complete transition, the city is saving more than $18 million annually and is redirecting resources to support other services areas, including the citywide expansion of blue cart recycling.

“We are delivering on a promise to taxpayers to provide residents with the most efficient, cost-effective services,” said Mayor Emanuel.  “Adopting the grid garbage collection system allows us to replace an outdated method that started when garbage was still collected by horse and buggy and divert personnel resources to support the citywide expansion of recycling.”

By moving to a grid garbage collection system, the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) will reduce its average daily refuse collection truck deployment from nearly 360 trucks to less than 320 trucks each day, while using fewer crews and fuel.  DSS will lower its refuse collection costs by more than $18 million following a full year of implementation.

“As a former Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation ward superintendent, I have first-hand knowledge of the City’s refuse operations and of some of the unique challenges each community can present,” said Alderman Michelle Harris (8th Ward). “I am pleased the department has developed a thoughtful system that meets the needs of residents while making smarter use of our resources.”

DSS is reassigning refuse collection crews to support the citywide recycling expansion.   DSS will also use crews to deliver blue carts to the more than 67,000 DSS-serviced households included in the 2013 expansion plans. 

“The ward-based refuse collection system is outdated and inefficient,” said Alderman Anthony Beale (9th Ward). “By transitioning to the grid system we can eliminate waste and redirect those valuable resources to support other service areas.” 

The grid system, widely used by municipalities and private refuse haulers, changes collection routes from non-linear ward geography to a system of routes bordered by main streets and natural boundaries. The service model concentrates sanitation workers in targeted areas of the city each day and creates balanced service regions to improve daily collection performance. 

“The grid system has proven to reduce lost time and increase work productivity not only in refuse collection services, but forestry and graffiti as well,” said Commissioner Charles L. Williams, Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation.  “Though the transition is complete, we are committed to continually re-evaluating all of our routes and resources to identify areas where we can streamline operations and improve our services for residents.”

Earlier in the week, the department began finalizing preparations for the transition to the grid system by posting “Change in Garbage Service Day” notices to garbage carts to inform residents within the boundaries of their new day of service effective April 15, 2013. 

The notices will also inform residents who receive curbside blue cart recycling services that their recycling day of service will also change to the same day as their garbage pickup. Residents who receive alley blue cart recycling services will maintain their same week of service, though their day of collection may change.

Residents who would like more information about the grid garbage collection system and related service changes are encouraged to visit the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation website at www.cityofchicago.org/dss, call 311 or contact their local ward office.

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