Friday, July 18, 2008

The Blue Bag Blues

So I was all set to write to my alderman this afternoon, requesting that we get the blue cart program in our ward sooner rather than later, when I came upon this information, saying that multi-unit residences had private trash pickup, and landlords were required to have a recycling program in place for their residents. In addition, residents are to be educated on what items are eligible for recycling in their building, and encouraged to participate in the program.

I wasn't aware of any program in my building, so I called my landlords-- what good are all these ordinances if they're not followed? To my surprise, I was told that we do in fact take part in the blue bag program with our waste management company, and that they just paid the extra "blue bag" charge a few days ago. While I'm glad to know that all those blue bags I've used in the past were potentially separated from the trash flow, I haven't been able to purchase any blue bags since last summer. I even tried to snag myself a free set in January by recycling a Christmas Tree, but they didn't have any to give away, only CFL bulbs and metal water bottles. I tried again this spring-- went to three Home Depots, a Menards and two Jewels before one helpful employee told me that the program had officially ended.

So instead I've spent my afternoon trying to find out if the blue bag program is really dead-- the City's Web site refers to the program in the past tense, with the exception of the following paragraph:

"And whether it comes to yard waste or general recyclables, residents of areas that have yet to make the transition to the Blue Cart can still employ a "last resort" method of recycling by continuing to use the Blue Bag. Since many private haulers have high rise residents that use the Blue Bag, operators of sorting centers or transfer stations where all waste is taken are required by permit to pull these bags and recycle them."

Finally, I found this press release on the Chicago Recycling Coalition's Web site (it's a cool site-- definitely worth checking out-- I'll try to have more on the organization soon) dated May 2, 2008, definitively saying that the program was ending this summer.

Does your apartment building have a recycling program in place? Check with your landlords-- if they're still paying for the blue bag program like mine are, they're wasting their money-- you can't even buy blue bags anymore! If apartment and high-rise dwellers can all get effective recycling programs in place in their buildings, we can turn around the city's dismal recycling efforts way before 2011--even faster than the city itself.

1 comment:

ChicaGoinGreen said...

I stand corrected-- I finally found some blue bags at the Ace Hardware in my neighborhood. The manager said that they continue to stock the bags (even though the city no longer accepts them) because they've had so many customers request them. I wonder if some of the other home improvement stores have restocked them because of customer demand... Walgreens hasn't, but maybe some other places have. I'll still probably continue to drive the majority of my recyclables to the drop-off site, because they accept more types of plastics than most private programs do. So it's not impossible to get blue bags, you just have to look really hard.