Recycling in Commercial/Retail Spaces

Chicago Recycling Ordinance, Updated 2017

The City provides bi-weekly collection to low-density households (single family homes & buildings with 4 dwelling units or less). The City does NOT provide recycling services to multi-dwelling buildings, commercial and office buildings, or restaurants and bars. Per the Chicago Recycling Ordinance, such property/building owners or managers must provide recycling services.

In 2016, City Council amended the Chicago Recycling Ordinance to reflect the most current standards within the recycling industry. The ordinance now provides greater clarity to property owners about their recycling responsibilities.

What has changed?

Under the amended ordinance, property owners of multi-unit or high-density residential buildings, office and commercial establishments will now be mandated to provide source-separated, single-stream recycling. Property owners will also be responsible for implementing an ongoing education program that includes posting signage, providing adequate carts and sending written notice to tenants about the changes.

Non-compliance: The Department of Streets and Sanitation will handle enforcement of the ordinance that includes a 30-day warming period and graduated penalties for non-compliance after an inspection. These penalties include: $500-$1000 (first offense); $1000-$2500 (second offense within a 12-month period); and $2500-$5000 (third and each subsequent violation occurring within 12 months of the most recent violation.

The City now mandates a “source-separated, single-stream” collection program, similar to the City’s Blue Cart program. The City recommends that the program you choose keeps recyclable items separate from regular trash. Commercial establishments may not use a “post-collection” system, which is any process that separates recyclables from waste after being collected, as the sole method of recycling unless a written waiver is received from the Department of Streets and Sanitation.  In order to obtain this waiver for a “post-collection” system, you must be able to show that implementing source separation recycling would cause undue economic, safety or space hardship and provide to the City results of an analytical waste audit.

2017 Updated Recycling Ordinance

Informational Flyer

Tenants and occupants can report non-compliance with the ordinance by calling 311.

Building owners and managers can call 312.744.2413 for help in understanding the updated ordinance.