CITY HALL — Chicago must do a better job keeping recyclable material out of the trash — and from filling up landfills, city officials said Wednesday.
Only 13 percent of the trash produced every year by Chicago residents is kept out of landfills, said Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams.
"We are not where we want to be," Williams said, noting that the rate has gone up slightly in recent years. "It has to go up a great deal more."
Several aldermen suggested the city's contract with two private firms that pick up recycling in parts of the city under a deal inked by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011 shortly after he took office should be renegotiated when they expire.
Williams asked Chicagoans to help boost the city's recycling efforts by ensuring that everything placed in the big blue bins is recyclable.
"We want people to concentrate on the big items like paper, glass and plastic," Williams said. "That would help tremendously."
Bins that include plastic bags, Styrofoam or yard waste end up dumped in a landfill, Williams said.
Businesses will be required to start recycling in 2017, and must provide a separate receptacle for paper, plastic and other recyclables, Williams said.
In addition, inspectors will begin enforcing a strengthened ordinance requiring owners of large apartment building to offer recycling to their tenants, or face fines of up to $5,000, Williams said.
Complaints about buildings that do not offer recycling should be made to the city's 3-1-1 system, and an investigation will be launched, Williams said.
Building owners will get 30 days to comply, before fines are levied, Williams said.
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