Welcome Inside

CHICAGO WILL BE THROWING OUT the welcome mat at its three recycling sorting centers this spring — and greeting a new cash flow as a result. For the first time, the city will allow third parties, such as private haulers that collect trash and recyclables from commercial sites in the area, to bring in recyclables to the centers. The city wishes to receive loads of clean recyclables, but a limited amount of contamination or waste will be tolerated, says Matt Smith, spokesman for the Streets and Sanitation Department.

The city currently permits the processing facilities to only receive residential trash and recyclables collected by city sanitation workers. Before bringing their material to one of the facilities, the third parties need to make arrangements with Allied Waste Industries, Scottsdale, Ariz., the operator of the facilities, Smith says. The expanded use of the centers likely will begin in April, says Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez.

At the city-owned facilities, the private companies will pay $5 per ton for the clean recyclables they bring to the centers and will receive one-third of the proceeds from the sale of the materials. Chicago also will receive one-third of the sale, as will Allied.

The city initially expects to receive between $1 million and $2 million a year in revenues from the program, Sanchez says. “Right now, we're being conservative in our estimates,” he says.

The use of the sorting facilities should have some benefits for the third parties as well, including reduced transportation costs, Sanchez says. The centers often are closer to the companies' collection sites than the suburban facilities they have been taking their recyclables to, he explains.