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Help Wanted! Short-Staffed Recycling Center Is Trashed On Weekends

By Patty Wetli | January 25, 2017 5:23am
 The North Park Village recycling station has been overwhelmed on weekends due to staffing issues.
The North Park Village recycling station has been overwhelmed on weekends due to staffing issues.
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NORTH PARK — The recycling station at North Park Village is so heavily used, its dumpsters have been overflowing on recent weekends.

Being too popular is a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless, acknowledged Alex Mendez, assistant business manager at the Resource Center, the nonprofit that independently operates the recycling station.

The issue: For the past couple of months, the center has had difficulty hiring and retaining weekend employees at North Park Village, 5801 N. Pulaski Road, which has led to the station's less-than-tidy appearance, he said.

"I just had a guy quit on Thursday," said Mendez, and other applicants have blown off interviews.

The weekend staff member works solo, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and is responsible for keeping items contained in the station's dumpsters and for notifying the center when pickups are needed, among other duties, Mendez explained.

With no worker on hand, "It's been kind of a disaster," he conceded.

Even with Chicago's citywide rollout of the Blue Cart recycling program and an ordinance requiring landlords to provide on-premise recycling programs at large apartment buildings, the North Park Village station is as busy as ever.

"As Christmas time, we were back and forth like crazy on pickups with the cardboard every other day," Mendez said.

The station remains a favorite of recyclers, Mendez said, because unlike the city's single-stream program, which combines all recyclables, the Resource Center provides separate receptacles for paper, glass and plastic to avoid contamination — an issue the Department of Streets and Sanitation has struggled to control.

"We do things the hard way," he said.

Anyone interested in the weekend job, which pays $10.50 an hour, can email Mendez at alexmendez.rc@gmail.com or call 773-821-1351.