Austin resident Darlene Harrison, a social service worker in the 37th ward, isn’t too big on recycling. Not that she’s against it, but it takes a certain amount of work. The city hoped to make things easier for Chicago residents by delivering blue recycling garbage bins to neighborhoods this week. Bins arrived in Austin Tuesday afternoon.
Residents thus far have been largely unmoved by the latest attempt to bring recycling to the 37th Ward courtesy of the blue movable carts.
“It just makes more work for me having to sort out the trash,” said Harrison, a single mother of two children, neither of which enjoys taking out the trash already – recyclable or otherwise.
“I just don’t have the time,” Harrison said. “I have to get up, get the kids ready for school, make breakfast and drive to work. Sorting trash is just a hindrance.”
She said that her intentions to use her new blue bins will be small at best.
The city’s latest effort comes two years after the admitted failure of the much hyped ‘blue bag’ recycling program. The goal was to promote the recycling of reusable waste by residents in Chicago. Now, the City’s Department of Streets and Sanitation has chosen to recycle the idea from blue bag to blue cart.
Starting on Tuesday, residents of the 37th ward might have noticed an addition to their curb and alley dumpster families -recyclable blue carts, which will be distributed to all single family homes and residential buildings up to four units as part of a field test for the “new” separate collection recycling program.
Austin resident Jason Hudson, who works downtown as a paralegal, feels the blue cart idea is doomed to fail again because of both city stipulations and the disregard area youths might have about recycling. One of the stipulations the city requires is residents placing only recyclable items in the blue bins.
“I believe that deep down there lies a fair amount of undercover environmentalist that will gather tin cans, rubber bans and plastic cups and stick them in a blue bin, but the city says that they will remove bins that are incorrectly sorted after the first time,’ Hudson said. “That means that the people who want the bins have to be like drill sergeants over the carts, hoping kids don’t throw leaves or banana peels in there. A few rebel individuals can hurt the whole neighborhood.”
Residents who receive the blue carts will also receive information regarding the proper handling of their cart, along with a brochure and refrigerator magnet, and a letter on the pick-up schedule, which will begin the second week of June and continue biweekly.
David Rivera, a spokesperson for Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), admits that the new program will take some time getting use to for residents, but feels that the two-week window allows individuals with bins to monitor the materials placed in the cart.
“Granted, it will be hardest to sell the idea to the under- 21 demographic, but we feel that the amount of support we will obtain from the community will be strong enough to overcome those issues,” Rivera said.
Rivera also feels the program will be successful the second time around.
“I believe once people see the benefits it will have on both the environment and employment on the West Side, people will begin to support it,” he said.
Rivera added that the program could lead to more of a demand for workers in the sanitation department, those responsible for dispensing the carts, and it could impact the job market.
However, will a program that failed in one incarnation fail in another, leaving the city once again blue?
“I feel the change in format will make a huge difference,” Rivera insists, arguing that the more glamorous midnight-colored blue bins with the reverse arrow emblem embossed on the side are more esthetically pleasing than the unsightly wrinkled blue bags slumped behind the trash can. “The carts are much more user-friendly than the bags were, and from the response I’ve seen from the town hall meeting announcing the arrival of the carts, residents I’ve spoken with have a very positive reaction to the project.”