- Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) has agreed to add a "30-day warning of noncompliance" to a plan which would strengthen the requirement for multi-unit buildings to recycle.
- Fines for noncompliance range from $500 to $5,000 per offense. The Chicago Association of Realtors says this is an undue burden on small landlords.
- After the change was made, the City Council’s Committee on Health and Environmental Protection approved the plan. The full City Council will vote on it Wednesday.
This is the latest in a series of efforts by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to modernize and stabilize the city's recycling program. The main push began in 2013 with the introduction of a new "blue cart" program and five-year processing contracts. Now the city aims to finally enforce a requirement for multi-unit recycling that has been in place since 1993, but rarely enforced.
While a fear of increased enforcement is what's driving the real estate industry's pushback, city officials made repeated assurances that they don't intend to run rampant with fines. DSS Commissioner Charles Williams said the city has only issued 197 citations for high-rise buildings in the past 10 years.
"The focus is not on the fines. The focus is on making sure that we get folks to come into compliance," said Williams. "We want folks to recycle. Whether you live in a high-rise or you live in a residential building. The city does not lose. You don’t lose. No one loses if you recycle. That’s the focus."
Recycling in multi-unit buildings has been a challenge across the country due to space constraints and inability to track noncompliance to specific units. Yet in many cities a large portion of residents live in these buildings and any kind of comprehensive recycling program must provide them access too.