04/19/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Chicago Ignoring $40 Million In Guaranteed Revenues From Recycling Program

An Aurora-based contractor is offering the City of Chicago $40 million in guaranteed revenue over ten years. So far, the city's not biting.

Free Green Can is a company that provides "dual purpose recycle/trash containers" to cities, venues and companies. The containers have one opening for trash and one for recycling, and have advertisements placed on their sides. Because of this, they're provided for free, and even offer to split their revenues with the can's host.

At last summer's Taste of Chicago, the cans got a trial run. 65 of them were deployed at the festival, which 3.5 million people attended.

But, the Sun-Times reported Wednesday, the city's Chief Environmental Officer Sadhu Johnston left his post shortly after the trial run ended, and negotiations with Free Green Can screeched to a halt.

The company is offering Chicago a pretty sweet deal, the Sun-Times reports:

Free Green Can is offering the cash-strapped city 10 percent of all advertising revenue for 10 years with a minimum annual guarantee of $4 million. The 25,000 free cans would save the city another $4 million-a-year.

But the Daley administration has failed to restart negotiations, apparently concerned that the program could violate its other advertising contracts.

Meanwhile, the recycling prospects in the city remain dismal. Chicago has been trying to improve its poor track record by deploying additional blue bins for regular recycling pick-up around the city. But only single-family homes or units with four or fewer apartments get city service. High-rises are mandated to provide recycling to their tenants, but with enforcement lax and fines negligible, most buildings simply don't. The vast majority of Chicago's apartment-dwellers have to go to the drop-off themselves if they want to recycle.