Joliet Reports Increase in Collected Recycling

The waste-hauling giant Waste Management has been in the news recently as the company now hauls half of the six areas in Chicago’s new recycling program. (Waste Management also was the company the city worked with to develop the expensive, failed Blue Bag program back in the 1990s, eventually losing that contract to Allied Wastes.)

Recently, one of Chicago’s suburbs renewed its contract with Waste Management for five years to handle garbage, recycling, and yard waste pickups.

Karen Rozmus, environmental services manager for Oak Park, said she surveyed 10 villages for comparative rates.

“There’s not as much competition in the waste-hauling industry as in the past. We feel we’re getting a proven service provider. Oak Park is enjoying favorable rates,” she said.

Rozmus also said when Forest Park issued a bid for contracts in 2010, proposals showed a 27 percent increase over current costs.

“The village rejected all proposals and exercised the extension clause contained in their contract to continue with BFI — now Republic — with annual increases at CPI,” Rozmus said.

Waste Management representatives said in June they would not offer the same contract to Oak Park if trustees sought agreements with other companies.

They also said higher costs for labor and fuel had pushed up waste collection rates.

Under Oak Park’s new contract with Waste Management, annual increases cannot exceed the U.S. Consumer Price Index, but an increase can never be more than 4 percent.

Trustee John Hedges voted against renewing the deal, saying he was uncomfortable without looking closer at other companies for services and costs.

Waste Management also does business in many other Illinois communities, including Joliet.  There, officials are pleased with changes in the recycling program, namely the introduction of 96-gallon recycling carts

The volume of recyclable material collected from July to September was 2,938 tons, up from 2,099 tons during the same period last year. The city hopes to triple its recycling collection by 2020.

Recycling volumes have been rising since the new carts, which hold about five times more recyclables than previous bins, were implemented.

Residents started using the new 96-gallon carts in April. Two months into the program, Waste Management reported that recycling had already increased 30 percent, even with the city switching from weekly collection to once every two weeks.

In 2010, the city approved a contract with Waste Management in which the company would pay for most of the new carts for the city’s roughly 46,000 households. The new carts allowed Waste Management to use trucks that mechanically lift the carts instead of having workers lift trash bins. There have also been fewer worker injuries and, because of fewer pickups, reduced truck traffic on the roads.

The business of municipal waste management is examined in several Roosevelt courses, including SUST 240 Waste and SUST 210 The Sustainable Future (offered online and downtown this fall). For more information on these 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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