City should rethink recycling cut

By Lauren Kelly

Chicago will be scaling back its curbside recycling program throughout the city because of the ongoing budget crisis.

The recently approved 2010 city budget does not include any money to expand the recycling program to include the households that do not yet have blue bin recycling pick up, although the Department of Streets and Sanitation said in a May 2008 press release that it would provide recycling to every household in the city by 2011.

Additionally, the 240,000 households that currently have blue bins will get their recycling picked up less often. Curbside recycling will now be picked up every third week instead of every other week to cut costs.

Chicago is sending a negative message to its residents. This city is supposed to be a leader in environmental responsibility, but it is not taking actions to fulfill that commitment. Chicagoans may wonder why they are trying to be green if city officials are not supporting their

environmental efforts.

When introducing the Chicago Climate Action Plan in September 2008, Mayor Richard M. Daley said he wanted to make Chicago the most environmentally friendly city in the nation, but curbing the recycling program does not further that goal.

To cut back the recycling program is not only a negative message, it also creates logistical problems that may negate savings the city hopes to see.

Currently, many recycling bins are completely full by the time workers pick them up every two weeks, and by delaying pick up, there is a strong possibility that the bins will overflow and there will be garbage in the alleys.

People aren’t going to cut back on consuming, and they will be less inclined to recycle once their bins are full. They will likely put the excess recycling in the regular garbage container, creating more waste for garbage collectors to process. This means more runs for garbage collectors, who will use more gas because their trucks will fill up faster.

Cutting recycling services does not demonstrate Chicago’s commitment to environmental sustainability. The city should rethink its decision to cut back on the curbside recycling program because it may create more problems than it solves.