WBEZ | garbage http://www.wbez.org/tags/garbage Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago garbage collectors: Will they really take that? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-garbage-collectors-will-they-really-take-109881 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/140433257&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>WBEZ listener Ken Coulman has been having dirty thoughts, specifically regarding the garbage in his alleyway. He&rsquo;s seen all kinds of dumping habits, from random contractors offloading items behind his house to neighbors sneakily leaving oversized items in alleyways not their own. In their stealthy haste, they make a mess.</p><p>As a homeowner in Chicago&rsquo;s Humboldt Park neighborhood, these behaviors troubled Ken. Recently, when he spotted a stack of old tires piled by the garbage, he called Curious City with this question:<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ken_curiouscity.jpg" style="width: 150px; height: 200px; float: right;" title="Ken Coulman asked Curious City about the limits of garbage removal. (Photo courtesy Ken Coulman)" /></p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What&rsquo;s the city&rsquo;s official policy on garbage pick up? Do they take anything that you put out?</em></p><p>While taking on Ken&rsquo;s question, we learned that a pretty straightforward pickup policy provides some city workers with a unique &mdash; and sometimes unflattering &mdash; view of life in Chicago.</p><p><strong>Size doesn&rsquo;t matter</strong></p><p>For our answer, we turned to Gloria Pittman, a supervisor at Chicago&rsquo;s Bureau of Sanitation, which serves 600,000 households in Chicago. These households are limited to single-family homes or buildings with four units or less. Pittman oversees garbage collection for seven wards from Pilsen to Jackson Park. She&rsquo;s previously worked on the front lines as a garbage collector herself.</p><p>We met Pittman at her office on the Southwest Side and asked Ken&rsquo;s question: Is there a limit to what you&rsquo;ll take?</p><p>&ldquo;We will pick up almost anything,&rdquo; Pittman said. &ldquo;It is our objective to pick up everything that&rsquo;s in front of the truck, be it trash, sofas, on occasion electronics such as refrigerators, stoves.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, size doesn&rsquo;t matter. There&rsquo;s no size limit to what residents are allowed to throw out, as long as it&rsquo;s regular household garbage.</p><p>The department accommodates big items with what&rsquo;s called &ldquo;a special pick up.&rdquo; That&rsquo;s simply a heads-up to garbage collectors to carve out more time. While picking up a few regular canisters outside one house takes about 30 seconds, disposing of something more sizable, like a sectional couch, may take a few minutes. That heads-up can help make the process more efficient.</p><p>Pittman said collectors are usually notified by supervisors who monitor the alleys. But preferably, the notification originates from residents who call Chicago&rsquo;s 311 service line. Pittman says you can <a href="https://servicerequest.cityofchicago.org/web_intake_chic/Controller?op=locform&amp;invSRType=SCC&amp;invSRDesc=Garbage%20Pickup&amp;locreq=Y">request additional garbage bins</a> online, if need be.</p><p>&ldquo;Notification from the resident really helps us out a great deal,&rdquo; said Pittman.</p><p>Chicagoans in the tattling mood can also help by <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/provdrs/streets_san/svcs/sanitation_ordinance.html">reporting persistent sanitation code violations</a>.</p><p><strong>Down in&nbsp;the dumps &hellip; at a special collection</strong></p><p><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/Garbage+gifs/USE+2.gif" style="width: 320px; height: 180px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 0px; float: right;" /><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/Garbage+gifs/USE+1.gif" style="width: 320px; height: 180px; margin: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; float: right;" /></p><p>To see how a regular pick-up differs from a special pick-up, we ventured into the back alleys in Chicago&#39;s Gage Park neighborhood on the Southwest Side.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/Garbage+gifs/USE+3.gif" style="width: 320px; height: 180px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 0px; float: right;" />A blue sanitation truck rolled through a snow-covered alley. Two workers hooked trash bins onto something called &ldquo;the flip,&rdquo; which, as its name implies, flips bins upside down into the truck. A heavy blade crushed and scooped the trash into the inner chamber.</p><p>Hook. Flip. Crush. Repeat.</p><div>The workers had a nice rhythm &mdash; until they ran across what looked like the remnants of an extreme home makeover. Pittman was on site and surveyed the heap of furniture.</div><p>&ldquo;This is a loveseat, a desk, parts of a table, an end table, a couple mattresses, some chairs and an ottoman,&rdquo; she said, laughing.</p><p>The garbage collectors declined an interview. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s kind of dangerous when I talk and work,&rdquo; said one as he reached for a piece of furniture.</p><p>And he was right. There was heavy lifting to do. A crushing blade tore through wood and nails. Sharp debris spit out the back. I watched a mattress flop into the back of the truck. It splintered into pieces.</p><p>&ldquo;And as you see, the blade is breaking that up and taking it on in,&rdquo; Pittman observed. &ldquo;It basically makes room as it goes along.&rdquo;</p><p>Eight minutes later, it&rsquo;s all been gobbled up.</p><p>&ldquo;As you can see, everything is gone. Hopefully the residents are happy,&rdquo; said Pittman.</p><p><strong>Some limits do apply</strong></p><p>Even though there&rsquo;s no size limit, Pittman noted that there are other kinds of limits. Most Chicago residents think, &ldquo;If it&rsquo;s garbage to you, it should be garbage to us,&rdquo; but that&rsquo;s simply not the case, she said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pittman%20mug%20shot.png" style="float: left; height: 162px; width: 240px;" title="Gloria Pittman supervises trash collection for the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation, and was a previous garbage collector. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />For example, say you rehab a room by yourself. You can throw the debris in the garbage. It&rsquo;s no problem, at least when it comes to city policy. But if a contractor does it for you, that contractor is required to take away the refuse. But not all residents abide by that rule; Pittman has seen plenty of instances where an entire gut renovation has been dumped in an alley. In those cases, the department has a conversation with the resident.</p><p>&ldquo;We try not to fine,&rdquo; said Pittman, noting that the department focuses on communicating expectations with residents. &ldquo;We want compliance.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s also a hassle when residents don&rsquo;t bag their trash properly. &ldquo;When they have to clean up things that people have just thrown out willy nilly &mdash; that kind of breaks up their rhythm,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Another problem is fly dumping. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s where a large truck or car has dumped a large amount of garbage &mdash; usually in desolate areas,&rdquo; explained Pittman.</p><p>The Bureau of Sanitation will not collect hazardous materials and certain electronics such as computers and cell phones. Residents can dispose of these items, such as household cleaners and oil-based paints, at the city&rsquo;s Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility. The city provides information about <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/supp_info/hccrf/household_chemicalscomputerrecyclingfacilityoverview.html">that facility and what it accepts</a>.</p><p>The worst thing Pittman&rsquo;s ever run across? Dead animals and human waste. Pittman said residents with dead pets should call 311; a refrigerated truck will do the pick up. And as for human waste, well, come on now.</p><p>Pittman let us in on one of the classic jokes among garbage collectors. &ldquo;You can find out a lot about people with the trash that they throw out.&rdquo;<a name="pittmanguide"></a></p><p><strong>A reason for hope</strong></p><p>I followed up with our question-asker, Ken Coulman, to get his reaction to all of this. The dead animal and human waste details certainly grossed him out.</p><p>&ldquo;Eeh &hellip; that&rsquo;s not cool,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But when I explained the no-size limit policy, he was surprised.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not at all what I was expecting to find out,&rdquo; he said after a long pause.</p><p>He was also relieved.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s very interesting because I&rsquo;ve always kind of felt like you&rsquo;re probably doing something illegal by putting those big items out there,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s helpful to know that you don&rsquo;t need to be sneaky about it. You can call 311 and give them a heads up and be civil about it.&rdquo;</p><p>To Ken, this is good news. He hopes that now that people know they don&rsquo;t have to be sneaky, they&rsquo;ll stop being so sloppy.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s hoping, Ken.</p><p><em>Deborah Jian Lee is a freelance journalist and author. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/deborahjianlee">@deborahjianlee</a>.</em></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.298379093615614" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="2078" id="doc_31924" scrolling="no" src="//www.scribd.com/embeds/213213263/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-18roq0sks1i1w0u8ngou&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 18 Mar 2014 17:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-garbage-collectors-will-they-really-take-109881 List: Five items that instantly lose their value once they touch the sidewalk http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/list-five-items-instantly-lose-their-value-once-they-touch-sidewalk <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/369205147_67e68f02db.jpg" title="(Flickr/soundfromwayout)" /></div><p>Inspired by something I saw outside my house yesterday. . .</p><p style="text-align: center; ">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center; "><span id="internal-source-marker_0.7289316796563796">underwear</span><br /><br />mattresses<br /><br />pizza<br /><br />synthetic hair*<br /><br />balloons</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>*If you need some, though, there is a bunch of it on the corner of Kenmore and Berwyn.</p></p> Tue, 02 Oct 2012 08:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/list-five-items-instantly-lose-their-value-once-they-touch-sidewalk America's addiction to trash http://www.wbez.org/worldview/2012-07-03/americas-addiction-trash-100618 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/452302178_808c677d23_z.jpg" title="(Flickr/mararie)" /></p><p>What&#39;s America&#39;s largest export? According to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.edwardhumes.com/" target="_blank">Edward Humes</a>, the surprising answer&nbsp;is trash.&nbsp;</p><p>Humes writes about America&#39;s trash problem in his new book <a href="http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9781583334348,00.html" target="_blank"><em>Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash</em></a>. For Humes, wastefulness is one of the few big societal, economic and environmental problems over which ordinary individuals can exert control.&nbsp;</p><p>Tuesday on <em>Worldview</em>, Edward Humes discusses why the country is such a prolific producer of garbage.</p></p> Tue, 03 Jul 2012 10:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/worldview/2012-07-03/americas-addiction-trash-100618 Worldview 7.3.12 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/worldview-7312-100617 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3720085161_354b8d09b1_z.jpg" title="(Flickr/ Näystin)" /></p><p>Tuesday on <em>Worldview</em>:</p><p>Mexico&rsquo;s Institutional Revolutionary Party, also known as the PRI, has returned to power with the election of Enrique Peña Nieto, who won the country&rsquo;s presidential election on Sunday. The PRI had dominated the country&rsquo;s politics for more than 70 years but was swept out of government in 2000. Peña Nieto has promised a series of reforms but many Mexicans remain skeptical that the party has really transformed itself.</p><p><em>Worldview </em>talks with <a href="http://www.johnackerman.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">John Ackerman</a>, a law professor at the Institute for Legal Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, about the election&#39;s implications. David Vidal, a member of the Mexican student movement <a href="http://yosoy132.mx/" target="_blank">YoSoy132</a>, also joins the conversation. YoSoy was hoping to see a defeat of Pena Nieto.</p><p>Then, America&rsquo;s largest export is trash. <a href="http://www.edwardhumes.com/" target="_blank">Edward Humes</a>, author of <a href="http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9781583334348,00.html" target="_blank"><em>Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash</em></a> tells <em>Worldview </em>why the country is such a prolific producer of garbage.</p></p> Tue, 03 Jul 2012 10:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/worldview-7312-100617 Where does our garbage go? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/where-does-our-garbage-go-100248 <p><p>In late May, the Illinois House approved a measure that would prevent any new landfills from opening, or any existing landfills from expanding, inside Cook County. The proposal has already been approved by the State Senate, and now it&rsquo;s awaiting Gov. Quinn&rsquo;s signature. We wondered why the state was worried about landfill legislation at this time.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/A%20Bulldozer%20spreads%20garbage%20on%20a%20landfill.jpg" title="A Bulldozer spreads garbage on a landfill. (Flickr/WI Dept. of Natural Resources)" /></div><p>It turns out there&rsquo;s a tousle going on on the southeast side of Chicago. The dispute is between community groups, environmentalists, and some pols on one side, and a company called Land and Lakes and other pols on the other side. Ground zero is <a href="https://maps.google.com/maps?q=138th+and+cottage+grove+dolton,+IL&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;hq=&amp;hnear=0x880e21386b01bc63:0x57f5fd65feecda46,Cottage+Grove+Ave+%26+E+138th+St,+Dolton,+IL+60827&amp;gl=us&amp;ei=j9vhT4ijFIfM2gW5nZG7Cw&amp;ved=0CAsQ8gEwAA">138th and Cottage Grove</a>. It&rsquo;s actually the city of Dolton, and it&rsquo;s where Land and Lakes operates a huge landfill. It&rsquo;s a stone&rsquo;s throw from the Altgeld Gardens housing projects, and just to the west of the Hegewisch neighborhood. Land and Lakes wants to expand to an 86 acre site that currently belongs to the city.</p><p>But back in 1984, the Chicago City Council put the kibosh on new or expanded landfills. In 2005, the City Council re-upped those same measures for an additional 20 years. &nbsp;So the company dangled some large numbers in front of Dolton&rsquo;s board. Cash the village would supposedly receive if it were to annex the 86 acres from Chicago and allow Land and Lakes their expansion. The Tribune said the number quoted was <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-05-24/news/ct-met-landfill-dispute-0524-20120524_1_landfill-ban-land-and-lakes-active-landfill">$36 million over 25 years</a> that Dolton would bring in thanks to the expansion. That&rsquo;s a lot of dough for a village that could really use it. A Cook County judge has already ruled in favor of Land and Lakes. &nbsp;We&rsquo;ll have to see what happens next as things work their way through the courts.&nbsp;</p><p>But the drama playing out down at the bend of the Little Calumet River got us thinking...most of us have no idea where our garbage goes. Yeah, a couple of guys in a really smelly truck come down our alleys-or our streets if you live in the suburbs-and then it&rsquo;s gone. But how far does it travel? Where does it end up? How long does it take to get there? Can it just keep going to that same place forever? Even as humans expand our ability and desire to recycle, we continue to generate refuse. How will we think about its disposal in the future?</p><p>Wednesday on <em>Afternoon Shift</em>, we get some answers from David Lee. &nbsp;He&rsquo;s a Ph.D. Candidate in Urban Studies and Planning, and a graduate researcher attached to the <a href="http://senseable.mit.edu/" target="_blank">SENSEable City Laboratory at MIT</a>. &nbsp;Back in 2009 the lab did a project called <a href="http://senseable.mit.edu/trashtrack/">Trash Track</a>, where tiny sensors were attached to all manner of people&rsquo;s garbage. &nbsp; There&#39;s also some <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/06/26-trillion-pounds-of-garbage-where-does-the-worlds-trash-go/258234/">easy-to-understand but eye-opening charts</a> that Derek Thompson recently posted in The Atlantic.</p></p> Wed, 20 Jun 2012 09:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/where-does-our-garbage-go-100248 Trash problems in Chicago: Who you gonna call? http://www.wbez.org/story/trash-problems-chicago-who-you-gonna-call-93870 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-08/RS4094_Dear Chicago Green the fleet3.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago aldermen have long controlled a key city service: garbage pick-up. But not for long, says Mayor Rahm Emanuel. As part of our coverage this week of Emanuel's budget, we look at the politics of trash.</p><p>Right now, Chicago's garbage trucks are assigned to one of its 50 wards.</p><p>"No person designing a garbage collection system from scratch would base it on a political map," Emanuel told aldermen during his budget address in mid-October.</p><p>Emanuel wants to move to a grid system. Trucks would have straightforward routes instead of zig-zagging within squiggly ward boundaries. The administration said that'd save $20 million in the first year. Some aldermen have embraced the change, but not all.</p><p>"It's not about politics," said Ald. Roberto Maldonado of the West Side's 26th Ward, during an interview at his Humboldt Park office. "It is about efficiency, and making sure that my constituents will be reassured that they won't have any problems."</p><p>Maldonado said that, historically, "constituents hold accountable the alderman for the garbage collection."</p><p>So if he no longer controls trash pick-up, Maldonado wants residents to call "the mayor's office number" with trash complaints. But that already kind-of happens. It's 311, Chicago's non-emergency hotline. And from a quick survey in Maldonado's ward, people already do that.</p><p>"For things like that, you don't really need to call the aldermen," Robert Williams said. "You call 311."</p><p>"I just dial 311 since it's non-emergency and ask them to come pick up the garbage," said Ivan Rivera.</p><p>Shikita Carr said she calls the police to report garbage problems, and she claimed they respond. (Though maybe that's not the best advice.)</p><p>Still, those responses indicate residents already expect centralized services. Recycling - in areas where there is recycling - is picked up on a grid. And last year the city started "field testing" grid garbage pickup, though a Streets and Sanitation Department spokesman says there's no "hard data available" from the tests.</p><p>At a recent hearing, a handful of aldermen grumbled about Emanuel's plan and how few details have been released. The city is paying a consultant to chart out the grids using GIS mapping software. But those results aren't expected to be ready until after aldermen vote on the budget.</p></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/trash-problems-chicago-who-you-gonna-call-93870 Emanuel considers a revamp of Chicago's garbage collection system http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-considers-revamp-chicagos-garbage-collection-system-90541 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-12/IMG_0836.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday he might change the way the city collects garbage. According to Emanuel, Chicago spends too much on trash pick-up -&nbsp;more than $200 a ton - compared to cities like Los Angeles or Philadelphia.&nbsp;</p><p>Currently, the city collects trash using a ward-by-ward program, but Emanuel said the city could save $60 million by switching to a city-wide grid system.</p><p>"Can we do it better, cheaper, and more effective? And, this is one way to look at it. Now, if somebody has a better way to find $60 million in savings, the door is open, the suggestion box is open, bring it forward," he said.&nbsp;</p><p>The mayor he would not eliminate the ward superintendents, who deal with sanitation concerns in each ward. He called&nbsp;them "the most responsive element to a community," and said he would consider creating a new position to monitor the grid system</p><p>Emanuel <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-announces-changes-recycling-program-chicago-89313">reiterated his plan </a>to revamp the city's recycling program as well, citing his desire for a "comprehensive policy" for trash collection.</p><p>"At every level of government, our city is stuck in decades' old policies we have not modernized for the 21st century," said Emanuel.</p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 12 Aug 2011 18:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-considers-revamp-chicagos-garbage-collection-system-90541