CHICAGO — Having worked to remove coal-fired electricity plants from the city, the mayor is now out to employ a Coke-powered recycling program.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel marked Earth Day Monday by announcing a $2.6 million grant from Coca-Cola to back the citywide expansion of the blue-cart recycling program. The grant, supplied through the soft-drink company's philanthropic foundation via the Keep America Beautiful campaign, will go to buy 50,000 blue carts and promote the citywide expansion of the program.
"Chicago residents have been asking for citywide recycling services for many years, and this grant will help expand blue-cart recycling to all communities by the end of 2013 and pay for damaged and replacement carts for years to come," Emanuel said in a statement before announcing the grant at a news conference on the South Side at Fernwood Park.
At the news conference, Emanuel went on to call it a "pro-growth, pro-job, pro-environment policy" and pointed out the grant, combined with savings transferred from more efficient grid-based garbage pickup, means "I don't have to ask the taxpayers for a single additional dollar."
“Through programs and public-private partnerships, such as the curbside cart program, we are able to encourage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community’s environment," said Matthew McKenna, president and chief executive officer of Keep America Beautiful.
The grant will pay for the distribution of 25,000 blue carts to city neighborhoods this year and 25,000 more replacement carts over the next five years. "The first 25,000 will help us take it all the way there," Emanuel said of expanding recycling citywide. Coke will also join with Jewel-Osco on a community-awareness program about blue-cart recycling.
Initiated in select neighborhoods under the Daley administration, blue-cart recycling has been expanded citywide by Emanuel just this year as part of what he says is his pledge to make Chicago "the greenest city in the world."
The mayor has also championed shutting down coal-powered electricity plants in Pilsen and Little Village as part of the citywide switchover to Integrys Energy. "Those will be shuttered," he said Monday. He also cited the city's expanded bike lanes as a green initiative.
First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is the annual event to promote environmentalism.