Chicago Ready to Privatize Recycling

A 10-year contract with Waste Management is on the table, a union leader says

By Lisa Balde
|  Friday, Apr 1, 2011  |  Updated 12:14 AM CDT
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Chicago may be close to handing off most of its recycling program to Waste Management.

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Mayor Richard Daley wants to add recycling to the list of Chicago's privatized entities that already includes the Chicago Skyway, parking meters and Taste of Chicago.

A city official said contracts are still under review, but according to a union leader, Daley hopes to sign a 10-year contract as early as next month to give Waste Management control of most of Chicago's recycling.

Lou Phillips, business manager of Laborers Local 1001, told the Sun-Times he heard the city would be divided into six zones. Waste Management would handle four of them. Dumpster supplier Brackenbox would get at least one.

The deal, which needs a two-thirds vote by the City Council, would help provide curbside recycling to more than 350,000 homes without it. 

But Phillips wants to keep the work in-house and says privatizing the program might lead to fees for residents.

“The citizens will be left holding the bag," he told the Sun-Times.

Phillips lobbied aldermen to impose a $10 monthly fee for recycling pickups to fund the switch to curbside recycling.

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