Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Privatized Recycling?

Guess what, everybody? Mayor Daley wants to privatize yet another city service! We've already leased the Skyway, possibly the airports, and of course the parking meters (and we all know how well that went over, now that we're paying 5 times as much to park on the same streets we've been parking on for years, taking away free parking on Sundays and holidays...). What could be next, you ask? RECYCLING!

[Insert collective groan and some serious eye rolling here.]

How bad could privatized recycling be, you ask? Well, we'd be paying for it, first of all, and-- once leased-- the city would have little control over things like price hikes and poor service, which is what has enraged so many residents about the parking meter deal. Secondly, who's to say that a privatized company would accept as many types of recyclables as our current (albeit imperfect) system does? And third, if people actually have to make an effort to separate their paper from their plastics, how many will be inclined just to throw the item into the trash?

According to the Chicago Reader, Mayor Harold Washington first put this plan into action back in the 1980s. His successor, Mayor Daley, who inherited the plan when he took office after Washington passed away, has been dragging his feet on the matter ever since. He's concocted a variety of schemes, such as Waste Management's blue bag program (which, as we should all know by now, was an absolute disaster), but hasn't really done much to establish an effective, functional recycling program in this city. Even the blue cart program (which is sloooooowly making its way to 600,000 residential homes in Chicago and estimated to be finished by the end of next year) does nothing to address the remaining 80% of this city's waste, which comes from businesses and multi-unit buildings.

The upside to privatized recycling, should this deal in fact go through? Maybe we Chicagoans would finally have a comprehensive, city-wide recycling program that we can call our own. That's what we really want, isn't it? Well, if so, it's looking like it may cost us... and the final price tag remains to be seen.

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