Chicago's Blue Cart Program: Recycling Essentials for Apartment Communities

March 28, 2024
chicago recycling programs

Chicago, the Windy City, is renowned for its architectural marvels, diverse culture, and commitment to sustainable living.  Recycling is an essential ingredient in Chicago's sustainability goals, and apartment communities are at the forefront of these efforts. If you own or manage an apartment building in Chicago, let's delve into the city's blue cart recycling program and how to make recycling easy for your residents.

The Basics of Chicago's Blue Cart Recycling

  • It's Mandatory: All multi-family properties in Chicago are required to provide recycling services to residents.
  • Chicago Keeps it Simple: The blue cart system is easy – these items generally go in:
  • Paper, cardboard (flatten those boxes!)
  • Metal cans
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Plastic bottles, tubs, jugs, and cartons (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #7)
  • For a detailed list and any updates, visit the City of Chicago's recycling website:
  • Contamination is the Enemy:  Items like plastic bags, food waste, and electronics can disrupt the recycling process.  Emphasizing what NOT to put in blue carts is crucial.

Tips for Effective Recycling in Your Chicago Community

  1. Collection Choices: Smaller buildings may use the city's blue cart program. For larger complexes, partnering with a private hauler specializing in multi-family dwellings is often the best option.
  2. Highly Visible Bins: Place recycling bins in high-traffic areas alongside regular trash bins to encourage participation.
  3. Clear and Concise Education: Provide user-friendly recycling guides with visuals to your residents. The City of Chicago may offer pre-made materials. Keep reminders about recycling in newsletters and on social media.
  4. Utilize the City's Resources: Tap into the City of Chicago's wealth of recycling information and resources on their website:

The Big "Why" Behind Chicago's Recycling Efforts

  • Landfill Limits: Recycling extends the lifespan of landfills, creating a more sustainable future for Chicago.
  • Valuable Resources: Recycling conserves resources, reducing the need for new raw materials.
  • Community Connection: Successful recycling programs create a sense of pride and environmental stewardship among residents.

Let's Make Chicago Even Greener

By complying with Chicago's recycling ordinances and empowering your residents to recycle correctly, your apartment community isn't just following the rules –  you're contributing to a healthier and more vibrant city. Organizations like WasteFree can offer additional support, from waste audits to tailored recycling programs for your property.