Chicago’s rules for throwing away leaves, grass clippings and general yard waste have shifted a lot over the years. So, as leaves start to fall this season, city officials want to set the record straight.
“We ask residents to put [yard waste] in paper or plastic bags next to your recycling cart and to call 311 for a special pickup,” said Anne Sheahan, chief of staff at the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation.
Unlike in previous years—and in some municipalities—the yard waste does not need to be in special paper bags, and it does not require special tags or stickers. But it does require the resident to call 311 to request a pickup.
When residents call, they are asked to give their name, address and optional contact number. Operators can not confirm a pick-up date, only that a truck should be there within a week.
Sheahan said she hopes her department’s fall public awareness campaign will boost the amount of yard waste picked up and sent to compost facilities from Chicago this year.
According to city data, yard-waste pickup totals over the last two years were 54.11 tons in 2014 and 346.95 tons in 2015.
Some residents last year accused the city of not properly disposing of yard waste and violating a 1990 state law that prohibits the dumping of yard waste in landfills, where it would rot in bags and emit methane—a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Monica Eng is a reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her at @monicaeng.