Suburban-style curbside recycling will be expanded to more Chicago neighborhoods within the next month after drawing 80 percent
participation during a yearlong experiment in Beverly, a top mayoral aide said Wednesday.
Environment Commissioner Sadhu Johnston emphasized that City Hall is not throwing in the towel on blue bag recycling. In fact,
he insisted that the program that recycling advocates have called a dismal failure actually has been a success.
80% PARTICIPATED IN PILOT PLAN
But with only 13 percent of city residents participating -- and an even
lower percentage of their recyclables diverted from the city's
1.2-million-ton-a-year waste stream -- it's time to try something
different, he said.
"We've heard loud and clear from many parts of the city that they want
to see recycling diversified. They want to see different options,"
Johnston said after joining Mayor Daley at the unveiling of an
Environmental Action Agenda for 2006 that includes the expansion of
"We know that
it's worked really well in our pilot area. We want to expand it to
other wards to see how it works. Does it work in a dense community?
Does it work in different demographics? . . . Our goal is to improve
recycling in the city. Nothing's off the table in finding ways to do
played it coy when asked how the expansion would be financed. He would
say only that an analysis was under way. "We're looking into grants.
We're looking into leasing the [sorting centers]. . . . There's some
very creative ideas we're looking into."
For 10 years, Chicagoans have been asked to
place plastics, cans, bottles and paper into blue bags and toss them in
with routine garbage.
The program has been a flop.
Only 13 percent of city residents bother to participate. The Daley
administration has managed to recover and recycle just 8 percent of the
waste picked up by city crews.
late December, Ald. Joe Moore (49th) proposed a City Council order that
establishes a 2009 deadline for the city to trash blue bag recycling,
only to be shot down by Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Michael
In the 19th Ward, where curbside recycling has achieved an 80 percent
participation rate, Picardi pegged the added cost at $1 a week per
If all 700,000 households
get the same service, the price tag would be $35 million, Picardi said.
"We do not have a revenue source to pay for separate collection. . . .
The mayor does not want to raise taxes to do separate collection."
The Chicago Recycling Coalition has argued that curbside pickups made
once every two weeks -- not once a week, as in Beverly -- would cost
just $15.2 million. That's an estimate that, Johnston argued, did not
include the cost of leaf collections mandated by the state.
More recently, Daley has said that
Chicago could finance a citywide switch to curbside recycling if three
waste transfer stations were leased to private investors in a deal
patterned after the $1.83 billion Chicago Skyway lease.
WIND TURBINE FOR DALEY CENTER
Now, Johnston is saying that at least some expansion of curbside
recycling is on the table, even before transfer stations are privatized.
If it happens, Ald. Ginger Rugai
(19th) wants to be first in line. The yearlong Beverly experiment is
confined to 700 households in the area bounded by Western, 99th Street,
Longwood Drive and 103rd Street.
"We'd like to see it expanded to the whole ward. Every meeting I
attend, there's always a question, `When are we going to get the blue
bins?' " Rugai said.
Environmental Action Agenda also includes recycling drop-off centers in
15 neighborhoods for collection of glass, cans and paper; a new Chicago
Conservation Corps of environmental volunteers; 50 bicycles for city
workers; valet bike parking at 10 large events and festivals; lighting
retrofits at all 105 Chicago fire stations, and installation of 225
more recycled rubber speed humps in Chicago alleys in 2006.
four months, a wind turbine will be installed on the roof of the Daley
Center to produce a small portion of the building's electricity. At 680
feet in the air, it will be the highest wind turbine attached to a
building in the world.
"We're like the Wright brothers. After they went the 120 feet, they
went back to the lab and flew a mile. Boy, that was remarkable. Then,
they flew five miles. We're in that five-mile category," said Bil
Becker, a University of Illinois at Chicago professor who invented the
devices known as "Aeroturbines."
"We'll be placing a small wind machine at the highest point ever
placed. If it works, it'll start a whole new thinking among architects
and engineers that you can start to design buildings with wind power as
an inherent part."
Photo: SADHU JOHNSTON: Environment chief
Copyright (c) 2006 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.
Copyright (c) 2006 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.