WBEZ | recycling http://www.wbez.org/tags/recycling Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en CPS tries composting pilot program http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-tries-composting-pilot-program-110277 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/compost.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Still not sure why you should compost your food waste? Just ask a second grader at Blaine Elementary School in Lakeview.</p><p>&ldquo;Because the other food that you throw away that you think you can&rsquo;t compost, has to go to a landfill and that&rsquo;s not good,&rdquo; says 2nd grader Chloe. &ldquo;It makes all these gases that are really bad.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;After we compost this, we take it to this big composting station (and) it will go into this special microwave and then it will turn into this rich soil so we can put it in some places in the environment,&rdquo; adds her classmate Harrison.</p><p>These second graders are pretty much right--except about the microwave part. They learned this as part of an 8-week pilot program that&rsquo;s got Blaine students collecting their lunch scraps every Friday this spring and sending them off to a commercial composter.</p><p>Partners in the program include the Chicago Community Trust, Loyola University, Seven Generations Ahead and Blaine parents. The final partner is CPS&rsquo;s office of sustainability.</p><p>This was surprising, since less than a month ago -- in response to a Freedom of Information Act request -- the district told WBEZ that it neither &ldquo;performs waste audits, nor knows of any schools that do.&rdquo;</p><p>But today, the district acknowledges that there have actually been many such assessments in the district.</p><p>Blaine did theirs before starting the pilot and, according to parent Adam Brent, found huge potential for diverting trash from the landfill. .</p><p>&ldquo;We came up with about an 88 percent diversion of total waste stream that would not go to the landfill &nbsp;if we separated out the food waste and the liquids,&rdquo; Brent explained.</p><p>These numbers match up closely with those from audits across the city that show that roughly half of all milk is discarded while 25 to 30 percent of all food on the tray. One recent Harvard study indicates that 60 to 75 percent of all vegetables served in schools also end up in the trash.</p><p>CPS says it&rsquo;s aware of the problem and encouraging schools to come up with creative solutions. Among these are dozens of on-site composting programs that have sprouted up all over the past decade.</p><p>Jen Nelson has been working on the issue for five years as Seven Generations&rsquo; Zero Waste Program Manager. She calls on-site composting program a good first step, but notes it can only really tackle fruits and vegetables.</p><p>&ldquo;But when you can look at opportunities for commercial composting you can all of the sudden get to the meat and dairy and bones and much larger volume of that food waste,&rdquo; Nelson said.</p><p>For instance, the day we visited Blaine, compost bins were full of half-eaten pizza that would&rsquo;ve otherwise ended up in the landfill. &nbsp;</p><p>Still, the 45 pounds of scraps that Blaine collects each week represent a drop in the bucket. The project&rsquo;s primary goal is to figure out how to expand commercial school composting in Illinois, a state where it&rsquo;s still much cheaper to send scraps to the landfill.</p><p>But if Nelson has her way, that won&rsquo;t be the case for long. She serves on the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition aimed at making composting as attractive in Illinois as it is in states like California. And she says that getting groups like CPS on board, could be key.</p><p>&ldquo;I spoke to a gentleman who owns a compost facility out of state and his comment to me was &lsquo;wow, if Chicago Public Schools were doing commercial composting I would site a facility near Chicago as quickly as I could because it would be worth it. I could make money from that&rsquo;.&rdquo;</p><p>If and when all of the pieces fall into place, Nelson estimates that the district could divert more than 13,000 tons of its CPS cafeteria waste from the landfill each year. &nbsp;</p><p>But the physical matter of waste reduction is just part of the story. This spring, Nelson trained dozens of teachers in a new &ldquo;zero waste&rdquo; curriculum (in alignment with Common Core) that will roll out to CPS classrooms in the fall.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been having a lot of fun training teachers and giving them really cool hands-on activities like making a model landfill and model compost in a two liter bottle,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;The students can build it and observe the differences between the two systems and see why things can biodegrade in one and not in the other. It&rsquo;s an exciting opportunity to help teachers really bring it into the classroom.&rdquo;</p><p>Finally, Nelson says an even broader goal is to plant the seeds for a new healthy crop of what she calls &ldquo;zero waste ambassadors.&rdquo;</p><p>And from the words of the precocious second graders at Blaine, it sounds like this crop is well on its way to taking root.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">&nbsp;<em>@monicaeng</em></a>&nbsp;<em>or write to her at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p></p> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 10:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-tries-composting-pilot-program-110277 EcoMyths: Paper or plastic? The answer may be 'neither' http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-paper-or-plastic-answer-may-be-neither-110251 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ecomyths-plastic paper.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Chicago&#39;s new plastic bag restriction represents an effort to green up the city, but does it imply that paper is the eco-friendly choice? Northwestern University&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.mech.northwestern.edu/people/faculty/profiles/masanet-eric.html">Eric Masanet</a> joins Kate Sackman from <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/05/myth-paper-bags-are-greener-than-plastic/">EcoMyths Alliance</a> to discuss the environmental effects of both paper and plastic single-use bags.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-64ee338f-4856-4acf-e34a-1f88e793c45a"><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/151549171&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></span></p><p><strong>The Myth</strong></p><p>In his introduction to sustainable engineering classes at Northwestern University, professor Eric Masanet likes to set the tone for the semester by posing the once ubiquitous checkout question: &quot;Paper or plastic?&quot; For many of his eager young students, the answer seems obvious&mdash;paper breaks down fast in the environment, is easy to recycle, and comes from trees. Meanwhile, plastic is notorious for building up indefinitely in the environment, harming aquatic ecosystems and clogging drains, and is made from fossil fuel. With all that in mind, it&#39;s easy to conclude that paper bags are the eco-winner.</p><p><strong>The Facts</strong></p><p>But life cycle analysis (LCA)&mdash;i.e., measuring an item&#39;s cradle-to-grave impact&mdash;reveals a more complex picture. In terms of single use bags, &quot;the science shows that moving from plastic to paper is not necessarily &#39;greener,&#39;&quot; says Masanet. In a nutshell, here are the key categories he says are part of determining the environmental footprint of any bag:</p><ul><li><em>Production</em>: For both plastic and paper, processing raw materials and manufacturing the final product causes pollution and requires energy and water. The numbers are too complex to get into here, but the UK&#39;s Environment Agency&#39;s<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/291023/scho0711buan-e-e.pdf"> life cycle analysis</a> determined that the impact of paper production on human health and eco-toxicity is &quot;significantly worse&quot; than plastic&#39;s.</li><li><em>Distribution</em>: Simply put, because a paper bag is five to seven times heavier than a plastic bag, transporting paper bags requires more resources to move it from point A to B. With more trucks, you burn more fuel, and you get more greenhouse gas emissions.</li><li><em>End of life</em>: Paper definitely scores points for being easily recycled, or, if trashed, breaking down quickly. But worth noting, too, is that UK LCA&#39;s estimate that 76 percent of plastic shopping bags are reused at least once, which can help reduce the purchase of new trash bags and pet waste bags.</li></ul><p>Does biodegradability trump reuse? Does harming aquatic life outweigh distribution-related air pollution? Masanet cautions us from calling a winner, because there are so many variables involved&hellip;which is why, when he learned of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-aldermen-crack-down-plastic-bags-pedicabs-110113">City of Chicago&#39;s new bill</a> to restrict plastic bags, he worried it might have the unintended consequence of making paper the de facto eco-hero in this story.</p><p><strong>One Green Thing</strong></p><p>So, what&#39;s a planet-appreciating person to do? You probably know the answer: <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/OGT-BYOB.png">BYOB</a>. In terms of legislation, perhaps Chicago can take a cue from cities like <a href="http://bringitaustin.com/ordinance">Austin</a>, TX, which banned businesses from providing single-use bags of any kind, but instead recommends reusables.</p><p>Compared with both paper and plastic single-use bags, reusable bags are &quot;an environmental slam dunk&mdash;if you reuse them,&quot; says Masanet. If you need to buy a bag, opt for <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/05/ready-to-buy-reusable-bags-for-the-win/">durable recycled plastic options</a> over cotton, unless you plan to reuse the cotton bags hundreds of times.</p><p>To learn more, check out the <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/05/myth-paper-bags-are-greener-than-plastic/">cartoon and full myth</a> at EcoMyths.</p></p> Tue, 27 May 2014 09:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-paper-or-plastic-answer-may-be-neither-110251 EcoMyths: Rinsing before recycling? http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-rinsing-recycling-109244 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ecomyths recycling.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong><u>To Rinse or Not To Rinse: A Recycling Mystery Solved</u></strong></p><p>At EcoMyths, people ask us all the time about recycling. One of the most frequently asked questions is &ldquo;Do you need to rinse all containers before tossing them into the recycling bin?&rdquo; That&rsquo;s a great question and have often wondered that ourselves. To explore this issue on our <strong>EcoMyths</strong> segment on <em>Worldview</em>, Jerome McDonnell and I talked with engineering professor and researcher <a href="http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/directory/profiles/Eric-Masanet.html">Eric Masanet, PhD</a>, of Northwestern University.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/117664526" width="100%"></iframe>The good news is that more than half of Americans, 58%, say they recycle on a regular basis. Of the 4.5 lbs. of waste that we produce on average per person, each day, we recycle about one-third of it, according to the EPA. Not too shabby, considering how much of all that recycling reduces the amount of garbage going into landfills.</p><p>Most recycling programs in the U.S. co-mingle glass, plastic, aluminum and other recyclables into one bin. Then they are processed together in a single stream at the recycling plant. So Eric advises that most containers be emptied and rinsed out before you toss them into the bin. Yogurt still in the container? Rinse it first. Peanut butter still in the jar? Scoop out what is left, then rinse, before recycling. Why so serious? Because according to Waste Management, the company that collects half of all the curbside recycling in the U.S., a single dirty container can contaminate thousands of pounds of recyclables.</p><p><strong><u>Water you talkin&rsquo; about?</u></strong></p><p>We asked Eric if the extra water used to rinse out the containers would negate the environmental benefits of the recycling itself. He said that even with the water used both at home and at the recycling plant, there are significant water savings compared to what would be used to manufacture new containers from scratch.</p><p>Not only that, the environmental benefits of recycling go well beyond water savings, Eric says. Over the life of a product there are also significant energy savings. For instance, if your peanut butter container is recycled into plastic lumber, energy is saved because the upfront impact of extracting the oil or gas used to manufacture the plastic has been eliminated. In addition, no live trees need to be harvested to create the artificial lumber.</p><p>As a professor of materials and manufacturing that focuses on product life-cycle systems, Eric has much experience researching the economic and resource impacts that occur in manufactured products. A <em>life cycle analysis </em>starts from the time a raw material is mined, drilled, or harvested to the manufacturing and use of the product and until it is disposed of or recycled. Eric points out that when we recycle and re-purpose materials &ldquo;we cut the loop short&rdquo; of the lifecycle of a product, creating significant environmental benefits, not to mention the money that is saved.</p><p>That said, the rules regarding whether you need to rinse out your containers actually vary from city to city. It depends on who collects your recyclables and the capabilities of the facility where those items are recycled. Eric advised us to check on the regulations that apply to your city or town by going to <a href="http://www.Earth911.com">www.Earth911.com</a>.</p><p>I think that not only is Eric incredibly smart, but he makes it really easy to understand the environmental and economic impact of recycling.</p><p>To learn more about this myth, listen to the podcast of today&rsquo;s show or go to the <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance website</a> to read more about <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2013/10/myth-you-must-rinse-all-containers-before-recycling-them/">how to rinse your recyclables. </a></p></p> Tue, 29 Oct 2013 09:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-rinsing-recycling-109244 Reporter’s Notebook: What are aldermen responsible for? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/reporter%E2%80%99s-notebook-what-are-aldermen-responsible-107344 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/5303796081_ce192df642_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="650" src="http://embed.verite.co/timeline/?source=0Am-AbC8HDbXMdDNPdTUxMTJWM0FaakxUdUdqWlVOc3c&amp;font=PTSerif-PTSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;width=620&amp;height=650" width="620"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/about-curious-city-98756">Curious City</a> is a news-gathering experiment designed to satisfy the public&#39;s curiosity. People <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">submit questions</a>, <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">vote </a>for their favorites, and WBEZ reports out the winning questions in real time on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject">Facebook</a>, <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/WBEZCuriousCity">Twitter </a>and the timeline above.</p><p dir="ltr">Curious Citizen Andrea Lee of Chicago&rsquo;s Noble Square neighborhood reached out to her alderman about two problems: a lack of a recycling bin and basement flooding. No dice with either problem. Given an alderman&rsquo;s vague job description, Lee wanted to know what aldermen actually can do.</p><p dir="ltr">Have you contacted your alderman or local politician about anything lately? If so, did City Hall help? And, what should local politicians be responsible for, anyway?</p><p dir="ltr">If you have leads or a point for us to consider, please comment below, or hit us at any of the social media outlets listed above!</p></p> Thu, 23 May 2013 16:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/reporter%E2%80%99s-notebook-what-are-aldermen-responsible-107344 Q&A: Recycling industry CEO Sharon Kneiss talks blue bins, and why zero-waste really isn't http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/qa-recycling-industry-ceo-sharon-kneiss-talks-blue-bins-and-why-zero <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/abmarfia/490005923/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/recycling-bin-beach-by-Andy-Marfia_0.jpg" title="(Flickr/Andy Marfia)" /></a></p><p>At a time when environmentalism is as much about high-tech innovation and industrial economies of scale as it is about conservation, recycling seems almost quaint. But what is one of the world&#39;s most widely adopted environmental programs has made considerable strides since it began in earnest during the 1960s. &nbsp;Sharon H. Kneiss is&nbsp;the president and CEO of the&nbsp;Environmental Industry Associations, the trade association that represents the private sector solid waste and recycling services industry.</p><p><em><strong>Chris Bentley</strong></em><strong>: Recycling rates are increasing, but citywide recycling still isn&rsquo;t a reality in Chicago, the nation&rsquo;s third largest city. Meanwhile it&rsquo;s mandatory elsewhere, as in San Francisco, where they also have curbside composting. Are municipally organized systems doomed to be a patchwork of programs, some of which work and some of which don&rsquo;t?</strong></p><p><em>Sharon Kneiss</em>:&nbsp;Recycling has been developed at the municipal level, but we&rsquo;ve learned a lot about the tools that they have to promote it. Accessibility is very important. We&rsquo;ve seen a jump in the amount of municipal solid waste that was recycled when we switched from the little blue bin to the 95-gallon bin. Education is also very important. When you educate you can really encourage people who have access to recycling to participate.</p><p><strong>What happened in 1985? The total municipal solid waste recycling rate nearly doubled that year.</strong></p><p>In the 80s there was a big jump in recycling because there was concern over landfill space. There was another big jump between 1990 and 1995, because that&rsquo;s when a number of big groups started to adopt recycling programs. Another significant improvement has happened in the last 10 years. We&rsquo;ve gone from recycling programs in about 500 communities to about 10,000 communities. It means that there is accessibility for between 58 and 74 percent of the population.</p><p><strong>Is municipal waste recycling a good proposition for cities, fiscally speaking?</strong></p><p>Recycling has become a culture in this country. It&rsquo;s really important that you have the markets developed for recycling. Part of the enterprise is to make sure you have a market for the commodities you end up with from recycling: paper, corrugated container board, plastics &mdash; some plastics become fleece fabrics, some become part of composite wood, other plastics &mdash;&nbsp;paint, aluminum. Recycled aluminum saves 95 percent of the energy it would take to make a new product.</p><p><strong>What percentage of recycled goods are actually landfilled?</strong></p><p>There have been tremendous improvements in the amount that has been recycled. The vast majority of it is recycled. The technology has advanced to a mind-boggling degree. Curbside, single-stream recycling where you can put all your recyclables in one bin and it&rsquo;s recycled at a single facility. Almost two-thirds of the population has access to single-stream recycling.</p><p>Optical scanners can read recyclables on the line and pick out certain plastics based on its optics. Stereo vision scanners can pick out certain trash based on its shape. The Eddy Current uses magnets to pull away aluminum. If you like mechanics, visiting these facilities is like being a kid in a candy store.</p><p><strong>What is a &ldquo;dirty MRF&rdquo; and what impact do such projects have?</strong></p><p>A &ldquo;dirty MRF&rdquo; is where they mix all of the waste with recyclables. There&rsquo;s some concern about contamination of the recyclables when you&rsquo;re mixing it with municipal solid waste &mdash;&nbsp;there&rsquo;s only one bin and it all gets sorted after that. I think it&rsquo;s a greater challenge in terms of separation.<img alt="Sharon H. Kneiss, CEO of Environmental Industry Associations" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Head-Shot--Sharon-Kneiss-305px.jpg" style="float: right; height: 324px; width: 180px;" title="(Courtesy Environmental Industry Associations)" /></p><p><strong>Paper/paperboard waste was nearly three times more abundant by weight than the next most prevalent material (tie: yard trimmings and food scraps), but since 2000 it has started to crash. But isn&rsquo;t that positive movement masking an uptick in e-waste?</strong></p><p>This is really a cultural change, on the paper side. This is what we call the &ldquo;evolving ton.&rdquo; Recyclables are changing. We&rsquo;re seeing less packaging, smaller containers; less glass, more plastic; we are seeing a changing composition.</p><p>On the electronics side, there is a growing cadre of recyclers who recover a lot of the precious metal of electronics.</p><p><strong>Shouldn&rsquo;t it be mandatory for more items, given the education issues and public health issues in some cases?</strong></p><p>Part of it is educating people. We&rsquo;ve learned even $1 per household spent on education gets a large return. Some places, like San Francisco, have a recycling requirement and there has been an impact. You need to accompany that with strong education so people understand what goes in and the importance of recycling.</p><p><strong>Illinois is one of eight states to cover at least three products with an Extended Producer Responsibility Law (EPR). What impact could these programs have and how likely are they to advance?</strong></p><p>One of the most effective programs, in Maryland, is not a requirement &mdash;&nbsp;a utility in Maryland has an aggressive program. But in terms of these laws, we don&rsquo;t know how effective they are. We would urge states considering these laws to look at the whole picture. They need to look at the life cycle, and ensure that they don&rsquo;t disrupt recycling markets already in place.</p><p><strong>Is zero-waste an attainable goal? How can it ever be economically feasible? What does it mean to aim for zero- or low-waste, exactly?</strong></p><p>Zero waste doesn&rsquo;t mean none. Unless you repeal the laws of physics there will be something left. The definition is really somewhat fuzzy. There&rsquo;s no established and accepted definition of what zero waste is. A lot of companies institute these programs because of the potential cost savings &mdash; Subaru, Walmart, Coca-Cola &mdash; it&rsquo;s smart capitalism. It&rsquo;s reducing waste to the degree that is economically feasible.</p><p><strong>You note that the recycling supply chain has become more environmentally sustainable &mdash; fleets use alternative fuels, mechanized sorting and screening are more efficient &mdash; but is the life-cycle analysis still worth it in terms of greenhouse gas emissions?</strong></p><p>The waste management industry is leading the way in natural gas-powered cars. We capture a lot of that gas from landfills. The savings is tremendous. Right now we have between 4-5,000 such vehicles on the road. Almost half of the newly produced trucks for the fleet run on natural gas. Of course there&rsquo;s an infrastructure cost around that, but many have put in natural gas refueling stations.</p><p><strong>Do you think recycling is popular because it represents a no-cost, out-of-sight way for consumers to feel like they&rsquo;ve had an impact, when in reality they may be consuming too much in the first place? Shouldn&rsquo;t the focus be on reducing consumption or at least reusing goods?</strong></p><p>Some experts have called recycling the most effective environmental program in the world &mdash; it&rsquo;s the most widely accepted program, because it&rsquo;s become easy for people to do. We still have a ways to go, but it&rsquo;s now accessible to 10,000 neighborhoods. There has been a focus on reducing packaging upfront. We are seeing those opportunities.</p><p>The area where they&rsquo;re really starting to look at reductions is food waste. Organics is the next frontier in recycling. They&rsquo;re also much harder because there are a lot of liquids and what we call &ldquo;putrescibles.&rdquo; Many retailers are looking at ways to reduce that by donating perishable goods before their expiration dates.</p><p><strong>Even with all the improvements we&rsquo;ve discussed today, how big of a role does recycling play in a sustainable industrial society? Describe your ideal view of the industry as your children will know it.</strong></p><p>It&rsquo;s probably beyond my imagination. The advancements in recycling have moved forward at an amazing speed. When I visited a facility recently, the manger said he had to update his equipment once a year, but if he really wanted to keep up he could probably change it once a month. The technology is allowing a lot more to be recycled a lot faster.</p><p>That doesn&rsquo;t mean we don&rsquo;t have a long way to go. Commercial and demolition debris is improving, and we&rsquo;re finding new markets. You can&rsquo;t just collect products for recycling &mdash;&nbsp;you have to have a market the product can go to. For organic waste, we&rsquo;re looking at processing that into methane and other gases. There&rsquo;s a lot of exciting potential opportunities.</p><p>One thing I was fascinated by when I first came to this industry is that companies don&rsquo;t look at waste as trash. They look at it as a raw material to extract value from.</p><p><strong>Any takeaway lessons for the near-term?</strong></p><p>Single stream has been the key to expanding recycling. &nbsp;Privatization, quite frankly, has really helped. It has developed large, regional facilities quite quickly in a way that generally governments don&rsquo;t do. It has also lowered costs. Advancements in truck technology has made collection more efficient and safer.</p><p>The waste industry is an industry in transition. Since 2000 all of the increase in waste has been matched by an increase in recycling. That doesn&rsquo;t mean challenges don&rsquo;t remain in the collection and the economics &mdash;&nbsp;we still need recycling at multi-family housing, and price volatility impacts the economics.</p></p> Thu, 28 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/qa-recycling-industry-ceo-sharon-kneiss-talks-blue-bins-and-why-zero Chicago begins new push for blue cart recycling http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-begins-new-push-blue-cart-recycling-105645 <p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel&#39;s office announced Wednesday that more than 131,000 Chicago households will get blue cart recycling services in March and April.</p><p>&quot;The blue cart recycling program will provide bi-weekly recycling collection services to residents who live in single family homes, two-, three- and four-flat buildings,&quot; a statement said.</p><p>The expansion will include 340,000 households and is scheduled to be complete by the fall of 2013. Currently, city officials say 260,000 households receive blue cart recycling service.</p><p>(Map: The Mayor&#39;s Office confirmed that areas not pegged for new rollouts will be under future consideration and planning.)</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/BlueCartKey.jpg" title="" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="750" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=MAP&amp;q=select+col2+from+19GapdtYoZ32gyu-Hn5cPj5gIwhX7AshICJ2dgfQ&amp;h=false&amp;lat=41.84008383218665&amp;lng=-87.70479297363282&amp;z=11&amp;t=1&amp;l=col2&amp;y=2&amp;tmplt=2" width="620"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div>The city said to ensure a smooth transition during the expansion, each of the six city service areas will undergo a gradual expansion of households receiving new recycling services. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The city said subsequent phases will be announced as collection schedules and routes are finalized.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;The Department of Streets and Sanitation and its partners are expanding our service areas in phases to ensure a seamless transition with effective operations and to make certain that current recycling services are not impacted,&rdquo; said Charles Williams, commissioner of the Department of Streets and Sanitation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We will continue to use the same rollout method throughout the year as we expand recycling throughout the city.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 20 Feb 2013 17:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-begins-new-push-blue-cart-recycling-105645 E-waste is a big problem, and a boon for some Illinois businesses http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/e-waste-big-problem-and-boon-some-illinois-businesses-105134 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mambol/6487023983/"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/6487023983_f7b4e8ebaf_b.jpg" style="height: 445px; width: 610px;" title="E-waste does not go in the blue bins reserved for most recyclable goods. (Courtesy Jobet Palmaira)" /></a></p><p>We throw out <a href="http://www.agreenerrefill.com/The-Benefits-of-Recycling">nearly 1 million</a> printer cartridges every day &mdash; a figure emblematic of the global problem known as e-waste, or sending electronic equipment to landfills. Much of this trash <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/international/21570678-growing-mounds-electronic-scrap-can-mean-profits-or-scandals-cadmium-lining">ends up in poor countries</a>, where its poisonous materials can cause public health hazards.</p><p>An international treaty meant to stop this dumping was signed in 1989, but there is still no national law governing e-waste in the U.S. Instead <a href="http://www.ecycleclearinghouse.org/content.aspx?pageid=10">24 states have stepped in</a> with their own measures.</p><p>In 2008 Illinois passed its own <a href="http://ilga.gov/legislation/96/HB/PDF/09600HB4636lv.pdf">electronics recycling law</a> that banned residents from landfilling products including TVs, computers and printers. The law <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/provdrs/streets_san/news/2011/dec/state_of_illinoisbanone-wastedisposalcomingjan1st.html">went into effect</a> at the start of 2012, and it appears to have worked &mdash;&nbsp;in 2012 electronic recycling rates <a href="http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/huge-increase-in-amount-of-electronics-being-recycled-in/article_40515c1c-5ab2-11e2-a0a5-001a4bcf887a.html">soared 50 percent</a> in Normal, Ill., for example. While Illinois&rsquo; Environmental Protection Agency is still collecting data from recyclers and manufacturers statewide, a representative for the agency said they anticipate an uptick.</p><p>That&rsquo;s in part because, under the state&rsquo;s new law, anyone selling electronic products has to meet recycling goals, which went up significantly in 2012. But even without that regulatory stick, recycling and reuse can offer compelling carrots for a company looking to make a buck.</p><p>Sims Recycling Solutions, based in West Chicago, offsets 300,000 tons of carbon annually &mdash; that&rsquo;s a net reduction, after subtracting out the company&rsquo;s own operational emissions from shipping, industrial processes and the like. They use every part of the animal, so to speak, recycling 300 million pounds of electronics each year.</p><p>&ldquo;The barriers to entry in this business are low, so there have been a lot of companies that come and go,&rdquo; Sims&rsquo; Sean Magann said, &ldquo;but we&rsquo;ve seen a steady increase in business from Chicago over the years.&rdquo;</p><p>Another company that has cashed in on waste reduction is Evolve Recycling, a subsidiary of Hoffman Estates-based Clover Technologies Group. Clover is the world&rsquo;s largest remanufacturer of printer cartridges; they gather used cartridges, replace the worn out parts and pass along refurbished products for resale.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://evolverecycling.com/"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Evolve - Cartridges in Boxes.jpg" style="height: 406px; width: 610px;" title="Empty printer cartridges in the Evolve warehouse. (Courtesy Evolve Recycling)" /></a></div><p>Unlike Sims, Evolve collects secondhand cartridges directly from consumers. The company &rsquo;s new program pays end-user businesses up to <a href="http://www.evolverecycling.com/10-hot-cartridge-list.aspx">$10 per cartridge</a>, and provides shipping boxes with prepaid postage.</p><p>Instead of grinding the cartridges into pellets for recycling &mdash; as do many original equipment manufacturers, who also collect empty cartridges &mdash; Evolve climbs one step higher on the old mantra, &ldquo;reduce, reuse, recycle.&rdquo; In response to tanking profits, some printer companies are mounting efforts to snatch up the same post-consumer cartridges that Evolve depends on, sparking somewhat of a war over waste.</p><p>Although they&rsquo;re flipping more than 10,000 cartridges each month, Evolve sees room for explosive growth. Depending on cartridge type, remanufacturers currently hold anywhere from <a href="http://www.responsiblepurchasing.org/includes/IITC.pdf">10 to 50 percent</a> of the market.</p><p>Even with their recycling efforts, the big printer companies can&rsquo;t offer products at the prices remanufacturers are targeting. So while remanufacturers lighten the load on landfills by about 38,000 tons of plastic and metal each year, they may also rest easier knowing they&rsquo;ve unburdened their bottom lines, too.</p></p> Fri, 25 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/e-waste-big-problem-and-boon-some-illinois-businesses-105134 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 Evanston solicits first input on bag ban http://www.wbez.org/story/evanston-solicits-first-input-bag-ban-86998 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-25/paperbags.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-25/evanstontownmeeting.jpg" style="width: 402px; height: 201px; float: left; margin: 7px;" title="Attendees discussed at tables the pros and cons of a banning bags. (WBEZ/ Odette Yousef)">Evanston residents and other interested groups had their first chance Tuesday night to weigh in on a proposed ban on single-use shopping bags.</p><p>While opinions ran the gamut - from favorable to opposed - all agreed that they would like to see Evanston become a greener place. Where they disagreed was: how?</p><p>Some City Council members proposed eliminating both paper and plastic at the checkout last month. The idea quickly hit national news, and Tuesday night's meeting drew more than one hundred people who wanted to discuss the details of such a move. Patrick Rita, from the Renewable Bag Council, flew in from Washington, DC, specifically for the meeting.</p><p>"We have not had a locality in any state around the country actually enact a paper bag ban," said Rita, whose organization, the Renewable Bag Council, is made up of brown paper bag manufacturers.</p><p>Rita says while many local governments have banned plastic bags, the furthest any has gone on paper bags has been to charge a per-bag fee. But Ald. Ann Rainey of Evanston's 8th Ward, says a fee won't go far enough to change consumer behavior.</p><p>"Settling for anything less than a ban would be settling for nothing," said Rainey at the meeting.</p><p>Rainey initially proposed the ban, saying it would cut down on environmental waste. Evanston's legal department will compile and present feedback from the meeting to the Administration and Public Works Committee next month, before a new ordinance is drafted.</p></p> Thu, 26 May 2011 04:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/evanston-solicits-first-input-bag-ban-86998