Press Release
January 3, 2012

Mayor Emanuel Announces Competitive Bidding Has Reduced Taxpayers' Recycling Costs by $1 Million

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

“This is a crucial step forward in our ongoing effort to serve the taxpayers of Chicago as efficiently as possible.” – Mayor Emanuel

The Mayor was discussing the preliminary results of competitive bidding for Chicago’s blue card recycling program, which is aimed at ensuring that Chicagoans get the best services with more efficient recycling collection and will ultimately lead to the expansion of recycling to more neighborhoods.

Just three months after the competition was launched, the cost of recycling has been reduced by $1 million thanks to cooperation between labor unions and City government. The estimated cost for recycling services from July through September 2011 was $3.15 million. After the competitive bidding process over the last three months, the resulting cost was $2.16 million – a 31 percent reduction.

The recycling competition is between two private sector companies – Midwest Metal Management and Waste Management – and DSS workers. Many of the cost savings resulted from cooperation between the City government and the unions that represent Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) workers. By using flexible scheduling, more efficient routes, and fewer crews, DSS was able to substantially reduce costs.

The City’s crews lowered the price-per-cart from $4.77 at the beginning of the competition to $3.75 per cart for the month of December. And the private sector competitors are delivering their services at an average of $2.70 per cart, which is the average price they bid as part of the City’s RFP for recycling services.

Mayor Emanuel has stated that competitive bidding in recycling is the first step toward extending the Blue Cart Recycling program throughout the City of Chicago. In 2012, more than 20,000 additional households will get recycling services, bringing the total households in the program to more than 260,000. The more the City can save through competition, the more resources can be invested in expanding recycling services to the whole city. This spring, at the six-month interval, the City will again evaluate the recycling cost data and move forward with the best plan to provide recycling services for the City.