Image of child using a Blue Cart for recycling
City Services

Recycling for Multi-Unit Residential Buildings

If you live in or own a building with five units or greater (referred to as a 'multi-unit building'), a private waste hauler picks up your trash and recycling. The City recommends that they use a source-separated, single stream recycling method, similar to Chicago's Blue Cart program.

Under the Chicago recycling ordinance, multi-unit residential building owners, governing associations and/or condominium boards are required to offer residents an effective recycling program. In some buildings, these entities hire a property manager who may be responsible for fulfilling this requirement.

The ordinance defines an effective recycling program as follows:

  1. At least three recyclable materials, such as newspaper, glass and plastic, must be source separated. This means that the recyclable materials must be kept separate from garbage from the time they are placed in a container until the time they are delivered to a recycling facility.

    In special cases, a waste hauler is allowed to pick up only two types of recyclable materials if your building reduces waste is at least two ways, such as using energy saving light bulbs and reusing supplies. If your building does not currently recycle, one of the easiest things you can do is call your waste hauler and request source-separated recycling services or encourage your building owner, governing association or condominium board to do so.

  2. A written recycling plan must be maintained and made available to residents for every residential building. At a minimum, the plan should include:
    • The three recycled materials and any measures to reduce waste at its source that your landlord may use.
    • How to prepare recyclables and what happens to them once the waste hauler picks them up.
    • A summary of the recycling education/outreach program to residents.
    • The contract with the waste hauler.
    • Semi-annual quality reports and any reports of contamination from the waste hauler.
  3. Each building must implement an educational program that informs new residents, and at least annually all residents how to participate in the building's recycling program, including what can be recycled, how to prepare it and where to take it. Residents must also be notified about changes in the recycling plan 10 days before they happen.