Enforcing recycling would be win-win
Chicago’s poor reputation for recycling is no secret.
The city passed an ordinance in 1993 making owners of buildings with five or more units responsible for setting up their own recycling. The more recent and robust Recycling Ordinance went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. This ordinance outlines fines for noncompliance ranging from $500 up to $5,000.
So, the owners of multiunit residential buildings and small businesses have had more than 27 years to institute recycling, yet it is common to find large buildings without any recycling service. A key reason why many building owners do not comply is that the ordinance is rarely enforced. Cities that have successful recycling programs nurture a culture of conservation, sustainability and clear, rigorously enforced regulations.
Given that our city is sorely in need of new income streams, all buildings should be nudged into compliance. It costs taxpayers when residential blue bins are stuffed to overflowing because tenants of multiunit buildings who want to recycle look for blue bins assigned to homes. And tons of recyclable trash from larger buildings ending up in our landfills is a disgrace. Recycling is an investment in our collective future.
Have the city inspectors take a look, give landlords citations, collect the fees, compel compliance with the law: It’s a win-win situation. It’s that simple. — Joanne M. May, Chicago