According to a Chicago watchdog, the city is recycling only around 8% of its trash

Chicago is unable to ensure that residents of large apartment complexes and businesses keep recyclable glass, paper, and aluminum out of landfills, according to an audit released last month by the city’s watchdog.

Inspector general Joseph Ferguson audited that 40% of Chicago households live in buildings with five or more units. According to the city ordinance, 60,000 businesses should provide recycling services to tenants. Under 2017 law, failure to comply with the city’s recycling ordinance can result in fines ranging between $500 and $5,000 per day. 

The city’s blue cart recycling program is only available for single-family homes in the city and buildings with no more than four units. That program is the focus of enforcement by city officials, according to the audit. 

The representatives of the department of streets and sanitation did not disregard the audit. But they declined for any changes until an ongoing study on the city’s waste and recycling policy is completed in 2021 in Delta institute. “As we await the city’s comprehensive waste study and its eventual impact on a proactive enforcement strategy, we are encouraged that the Department of Streets and Sanitation agreed with our recommendations and has begun collaborating with other departments to improve its citation system and address compliance issues,” Ferguson said in a statement.

Between 8% and 9% of the trash produced every year by Chicago residents are kept out of landfills, officials told aldermen during hearings on the city’s 2021 budget. By comparison, residents of New York City recycled 17% of their trash. In Los Angeles, the recycling rate is 76.4% — in part because of strict rules set by California officials.




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