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Chicago Trying “Blue Bag Buddy System” to Boost its Recycling Rate

The new buddy bags feature some basic do's and don'ts to help residents recycle correctly.

The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation has launched a pilot program, a "blue cart buddy" bag at 5,000 households, designed to encourage recycling of items from the kitchens.

Earlier this year the city instituted a bagless recycling policy. It requires residents to place recyclables out of bags and in blue carts. But residents struggled to adjust, leading to a spike in violations as many continued to put recyclables in bags.

The new buddy bags feature some basic do's and don'ts to help residents recycle correctly.

Recycling has been an issue in Chicago overall. In November, new data showed the city’s recycling rate had dropped below 10 percent.

The city has also tried to do what it can to encourage recycling at multifamily units within the city. A proposal under consideration includes fines that range from $1,000 for the first offense and up to $5,000 for a third offense within a year.

DNAInfo has more info on the buddy bags:

"We're marking a few things we want you to put in, and a few things we don't," which should help eliminate some of the guesswork, Sauve said.

On the other side, the bag is printed with step-by-step instructions of how to use it: keep it somewhere handy; fill it with recyclables; when full, empty the items into the blue cart. Repeat.

"It's a means of getting to people and asking them to participate correctly," Sauve said.

To determine the buddy bag's effectiveness, Streets & San will track the number of carts being tagged with orange contamination stickers — these carts are later picked up as trash, not recycling.

Read the full story here.

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