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Does Your Apartment Have Recycling? If Not, It's Illegal

By Tanveer Ali | January 30, 2015 8:03am | Updated on January 30, 2015 7:01pm
 "My Building Doesn't Recycle!" is a new website that catalogs residential buildings across Chicago without recycling services. Buildings with four or fewer units are covered by the city's Blue Cart recycling program.
"My Building Doesn't Recycle!" is a new website that catalogs residential buildings across Chicago without recycling services. Buildings with four or fewer units are covered by the city's Blue Cart recycling program.
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My Building Doesn't Recycle! and DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

MERCHANDISE MART — Does your building recycle? A team of local programmers wants to know.

Since the launch Tuesday of "My Building Doesn't Recycle!" Chicagoans reported 188 buildings that aren't compliant with recycling requirements.

Claire Micklin, who was project manager and a designer on the project, said the site isn't about shaming building owners, but bringing attention to the issue of recycling.

"It's not about getting the landlord to do something," Micklin said. "It's about telling the city to enforce the law."

The type of recycling required for a residential building depends on the number of units. Buildings with four or fewer units are covered under the city's Blue Cart recycling program.

Since 1995, buildings with five units or more have been required by city law to contract recycling services with private haulers.

While landlords are required to provide recycling, the city doesn't actively enforce the law, Micklin said.

Molly Poppe, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation said that "recycling has been a priority" for the department.

"We are focused on encouraging increased recycling participation through resident education and conversations with building managers," she said.

The site is pretty simple: residents plug in their home address and add comments. The addresses then are mapped and shared publicly.

In April, Micklin proposed tackling the issue at Open Gov Hack Night at 1871 in Merchandise Mart after noticing problems with recycling at her apartment building in Edgewater.

"My neighbors' blue bins were overflowing with recycling from my building," said Micklin.

Her building has since started a recycling program. She hopes her site will help other residential buildings in Chicago achieve similar results.

"It's not meant to be a hostile app," Micklin said, describing her  approach as "here's a visualization of a problem."

"It shows that recycling is important."

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