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Blue Bags Make Chicago Recycling Blue

By vouchey in News on Mar 23, 2005 7:52PM

Chicago Recycling Blue BagChicagoist has been remiss in missing the missives on missing recycling. And so we pick up the story with Mayor Richard M. Daley's press conference yesterday: It's all your fault. Ours, the citizenry, we mean. But not the city's. And certainly not the Mayor's. Nope.

The Chicago Tribune, you see, has been doggedly asking questions about the city's Blue Bag Recycling program. Last January they found that barely anyone was participating in the program. Then they found that a significant amount of "recyclables" were actually just being plowed into an Indiana field.

Then, last Sunday the Trib published a story saying that not only was the participation rate low, but 30% of collected recyclables were pulled out and dumped into a landfill. After all, Allied Waste Transportation, the company handling trash, made more money dumping trash in a landfill than sorting it out. In the end, 17% of trash is recycled, not the 25% reported by the city.

Blue Bags, championed by Daley for a reason nobody understands, have been unpopular with Chicagoans because of their cost and tendency to break. Recommendations from the EPA and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance say -- and this should be obvious -- to have weekly curbside pick-up from containers. That's what Madison, Wisconsin, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and New York City do. But what do they know? After all, higher recycling participation rates are just hype.

And so we come back to the Mayor's press conference yesterday.

"I am very proud of the program," Daley said. People "want excuses not to recycle," he said. Blue bags are "the simplest way" to recycle household garbage, but "it requires education," he said.

He really sticks to his guns, don't he?