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Chicago Recycling Expands: More Service Up For Spring, Program Could Be City-Wide By Year's End

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After years of half-baked recycling initiatives, Chicago is finally making good on expanding its program, promising city-wide service by the end of the year.

Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the residential recycling services is expanding to new portions of the city, starting in March mostly on the West and Northwest Side and Beverly on the South Side.

“Chicago will no longer be a tale of two cities when it comes to recycling,” Emanuel said in a release Wednesday. “Adopting new strategies will allow us to expand blue cart recycling to every community in 2013, and residents will soon have greater access to recycling services, which will make Chicago a greener, more environmentally friendly city.”

(See the full map for the city-wide 2013 recycling expansion.)

At the mayor's announcement, Emanuel stood in front of stacks of the recycling carts at a Department of Streets and Sanitation garage in Rogers Park and said "You cannot be a green city and not have recycling citywide," according to the Chicago Tribune.

The city estimates the current recycling program serves 260,000 households. The bi-weekly collection is provided to single family homes and buildings with four units or fewer (sorry six-flats).

The first round of spring service expansions will start in March, while residents living in the April expansion area will have collection services starting as early as April 29.

The mayor's office claimed Emanuel's "managed competition" rolled out in 2011 cut down on the program's cost by using both city workers and private contractors, Sims Municipal Recycling, and Waste Management.

Despite being hailed as a "green" city during the waning years of former Mayor Daley's reign (and the nascent years of Emanuel's), Chicago's recycling program has long been something of a wasteland.

The promise of a city-wide "suburban style" recycling program had been promised before, supposedly going into effect by the end of 2011.

The city's disastrous Blue Bag program was abandoned in 2008 for current Blue Cart program, but its expansion ground to a halt in 2011 due to lack of funds.

Lack of resident participation was a major shortcoming of the Blue Bag program, but Emanuel waved that challenge aside Wednesday.

The Tribune said when asked whether he would consider issuing fines to households that don't recycle, Emanuel replied, "That's a hypothetical that I'm not going to engage in."

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