It might strike you as an obscure policy dispute if not an absurd one, but an ongoing debate over who's going to get control of your dumpster is likely to determine what happens in the coming years with millions of tons of Chicago's waste and millions of dollars of its residents' money.
A few weeks ago city officials proposed drastic changes to the way garbage is picked up, disposed of, and paid for in Chicago, but some of the area's leading waste haulers, recyclers, and business groups are voicing ever-louder skepticism about city projections that the plan would be better for the environment and cheaper for residents and businesses.
"They've gone around for several months talking to various groups, and there's not anyone we know who actually supports this plan," says Cara Birch, a spokeswoman for a group of waste management firms concerned about the proposal. "If they're truly interested in things like improving recycling and reducing emissions, they should talk to the people in the industry who are doing it."
Suzanne Malec-McKenna, the commissioner for the Chicago Department of Environment, emphasizes that the plan is meant to spur serious discussion and is by no means final. "It's a model that's been floated as a possibility," she says. "I think it'll end up being a hybrid of a range of models that have worked before it's done."