The Recycling Cycle New Methods, New Incentives

Chicago is trashy. Literally. Whether it’s paper plates, cups, napkins, food waste or E-waste, such as discarded computers, office electronic equipment, entertainment systems or mobile phones, every day, residents of the Windy City produce hundreds of tons of trash. In 2012, the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation hauled away 892,034 tons of garbage in Chicagoland. That’s about 657 pounds per person. Removing a multifamily community’s trash and recyclables is an important job and if not handled correctly, things can get messy.

Once all that garbage is carted away from their driveways and curbs, however, most people don’t give it much further thought. It has to go somewhere, though, and most often, it goes to landfills, transfer stations and treatment plants throughout the state, or onto trains and barges and sent even farther afield. Dump sites for Chicago area refuse are located in Dolton and Pontiac, Illinois, as well as Brook and Monticello, Indiana.

While most everyone is happy to get their garbage off their hands, they tend to be less enthused about having those aforementioned landfills, transfer stations, or treatment facilities anywhere near their homes or communities due to environmental and economic concerns. Experts note that if garbage facilities are not properly cared for or do not follow guidelines, there could be odor and rodent issues, as well as problems with birds and seagulls in some places.

It is incredibly important to know where your building’s garbage and recycling is going and to educate yourself about new waste and recycling practices. After all, a landfill or processing center could be proposed to open near your neck of the woods—and landfills are one of the most potent contributors to global warming, responsible for 36 percent of all methane emissions in the United States.

Or, perhaps a recycling hub could start in your own building’s basement. Or maybe you’ve got an electronics recycling box in your basement already (most big buildings already do). Regardless—you should be informed.

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