CHICAGO - The Windy City has declared a war on rats.
Mayor Richard M. Daley has encouraged restaurants and other businesses that generate high volumes of food waste to invest in garbage compactors. These compactors will keep rodents from this potential source of nourishment while saving money for the businesses by reducing the frequency of trash pickups.
More than a dozen major eateries have taken Daley up on his suggestion, but the Rainforest Cafe took it one step further by installing a disposal system that breaks down discarded food by grinding and dehydrating it with water in a centrifugal cylinder.
Rats only can survive where they have a safe, reliable food source. Careless handling of edible garbage is the major cause of any rat infestation, and rats quickly are eliminated when food becomes scarce.
"With this system, our waste is two-thirds what it would be normally, in effect saving us $10,000 to $12,000 a year in additional garbage pick-ups," says Larry Flamm, Rainforest's director of operations.
One of the cornerstones of Daley's anti-rat program is the Dumpster Task Force, which has been aggressive in ticketing loose garbage and overflowing dumpsters.
Chicago has fewer than 500,000 rats today, compared to more than 6 million in 1979.