Chicago Recycling “Managed Competition” Program Begins Monday

On Monday, October 3, many residents in Chicago will experience yet another attempt to expand recycling in the city as Chicago introduces a “managed competition” system to collect household recyclables.  As the Chicago Reader reported last year, Chicago’s recycling program has a very low recycling rate — and the city pays millions of dollars each year to maintain the program.  The new program divides many of the single-family households in Chicago into six zones serviced by two companies and city workers in the hopes of providing more homes with Blue Carts at a lower price to the city.

Within four months, the mayor has promised blue-cart recycling will come to 20,000 additional households in Wicker Park, Bucktown and Logan Square.

Six months into the competition, a cost-benefit analysis will determine how city employees measured up against two private contractors: Waste Management and Midwest Metal Management.

Pickup schedules will be changing for areas serviced by Blue Carts, and more households are supposed to be getting Blue Carts over this six-month trial period.  If you live in a single-family dwelling, you may call the city at 311 to see whether your neighborhood is serviced by Blue Carts.

Roosevelt Professor Carl Zimring discusses public and private recycling systems in his book Cash for Your Trash: Scrap Recycling in America and taught about it last year in the first offering of SUST 240 Waste. A downtown version of that seminar will be offered in Spring 2012, during which this trial program will be evaluated by the city. For more information on the seminar or any other of our courses, visit our Sustainability Studies website, call 1-877-277-5978 (1-877-APPLY RU) or email

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