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The Mechanics
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Chicago Tue Jul 07 2009

Recycling Update: Streets & Sanitation Responds

In late June, I questioned the possibility of making recycling easier for pedestrians in the Loop, and also posted on the few BigBelly solar trash compactors around the city. At that time, I couldn't get a response from the Department of Streets & Sanitation, but shortly after I posted, spokesperson Matt Smith sent me an e-mail. (He couldn't get back to me right away because the department was bombarded with calls regarding floods as the city was in the midst of a strong storm, he said).

In an e-mail, Smith noted that in and near the Loop, there are currently three solar trash compactors, which besides being cool to look at, help reduce garbage overflow. They are located at: the southwest corner of State and Randolph, the northwest corner of Madison and Canal and the northwest corner of Michigan and Pearson. There's also one on Devon Avenue, which was funded by the Devon Avenue Special Service Area.

Unfortunately, the compactors cost about $4,000 each, so the city won't be rolling out too many more of these anytime soon. Rather, Smith said the city is focused on the new Blue Cart Program, which he hopes will be phased in by the end of 2011.

As for installing recycling bins on streets in the Loop, Smith said most garbage and recyclable collections downtown are handled by private services, making the bins like Ann Arbor has on the streets a little trickier to install. "Sure more recycling in the Loop is feasible, but given limited resources and a customer base that is primarily residential, our main recycling focus are our residents at home," he said in an e-mail. "But just like you're seeing more solar-powered compactors, which are funded by other sources, you might also see more street recycling opportunities through similar avenues. We are always willing to work with the private sector to improve the quality of life for our residents. But we also realize that it is a rough economy for both the public and private sectors, so there are limits that we are all forced to heed."

All of this is understandable, especially in a recession, but is this not yet another example of the city relying too much on the private sector (parking meter fiasco, anyone?) for jobs the city should be doing? The Reader's Mick Dumke has been covering the recycling problem extensively. You can read some of his past stories here.

 
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ardecila / July 8, 2009 1:22 AM

The southwest corner of State and Randolph is shut down due to Block 37 construction. Pedestrians can walk there, but only to a temporary "island" where they wait for the other walk signal. Where exactly is the trash compactor?

Sheila Burt / July 9, 2009 10:37 PM

Thanks for point that out, Ardecila. I walked by there and you're right - only construction. I have amended the post to reflect this.

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Feature

Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...

Civics

Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

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It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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