March 12, 2013

Blue Cart Recycling Services Roll Out to 67,000 Chicago Households

Blue cart program provides Chicagoans with greater access to recycling services

This week, the City of Chicago begins collecting recyclable materials from an additional 67,000 households as part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2013 citywide expansion of the blue cart residential recycling program. Expanding recycling citywide was a key 2013 budget initiative for the Mayor. 

“Chicago will no longer be a tale of two cities when it comes to recycling, and every community in Chicago will have residential recycling services this year,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  “The blue cart recycling program promotes sound recycling practices and will make Chicago a greener, more environmentally friendly city.”

The blue cart recycling program provides bi-weekly recycling collection services to residents who live in single family homes, two-, three- and four-flat buildings. The expansion will include 340,000 households and is scheduled to be complete by the fall of 2013. 

“The blue cart recycling program supports a more sustainable city for generations to come, while helping to preserve natural resources and reduce pollution,” said Alderman Natashia Holmes, 7th Ward.  “Residents are eager to recycle, and I am pleased Mayor Emanuel is committed to making this service available citywide.”

To ensure a smooth transition during the expansion, each of the six city service areas will undergo a gradual expansion of households receiving new recycling services.

The blue cart residential recycling program is a single stream recycling system in which all recyclable materials are collected and transported together. Recyclables are picked up and transported in designated recycling trucks to avoid contamination with regular garbage.

Materials are taken to a city-approved recycling center where they are sorted into separate materials, called commodities, then baled or packaged for delivery to manufacturers who reprocess or reuse the materials to make new products.

“Providing residents with easy access to recycling services will encourage regular recycling in every household,” said Alderman Deborah Graham, 29th Ward.  “The blue cart recycling program is making Chicago a greener, more environmentally-friendly place to live and work.”

Working with aldermanic offices, Chicago Public Schools and community groups, the City has also launched a citywide recycling education campaign. The campaign includes media relations, direct-to-consumer outreach, social media engagement, numerous community education meetings and advertising.

In October of 2011, Mayor Emanuel implemented a managed competition for recycling services in an effort to create efficiencies and reduce operational costs to taxpayers. In one year, the competition decreased recycling costs by $4.7 million and paved the way for the citywide recycling expansion. 

Subsequent phases will be announced as collection schedules and routes are finalized. Chicago’s recycling service providers include the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation, Sims Municipal Recycling, and Waste Management.

The next expansion will take place in April, when approximately 64,000 households are scheduled to receive blue cart services.  Residents who live within the boundaries of the April expansion area will begin receiving carts on April 15, and collection services will begin as early as April 29.

To view the service map, visit: Recycling Pick-up Schedule/Map

For more information about the blue cart recycling program, resident should call 311 or visit

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