Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday avoided the word "privatization" when describing new plans for Chicago's Blue Cart Recycling program.
But the plan sounds similar to a reported privatization deal former Mayor Richard Daley floated in March.
Emanuel said Monday he will include "managed competition" to refocus the program and eventually expand it throughout Chicago. Looking to Phoenix and other cities that saved money this way, the mayor will sign contracts with two vendors to take over a portion of pickup services.
Similar to what Lou Phillips, business manager of Laborers Local 1001, told the Sun-Times earlier this year, the city's recycling grid will be divided into six districts, four of which will be serviced by two private companies: Waste Management and Midwest Metal Management. The other two will continue to be managed by Chicago Streets and Sanitation.
"No city union worker" will be laid off from this move, said Streets and San Commissioner Tom Byrne on Monday during a press conference. Instead, they will be shifted to other jobs within the department.
Emanuel said the new program will help add 20,000 residences to pickup routes about four months after Waste Management and Midwest Metal Management take over their sectors in September or October.
“I promised the people of Chicago that my administration would work to deliver the best services in the most cost-effective way possible," Emanuel said in a statement. "Delivering our Blue Cart recycling program at a lower cost to taxpayers is the first step in making recycling collection available citywide.”
Waste Management and Midwest Metal Management were the lowest bidders for their respective areas. Emanuel said he will evaluate the cost savings of private and public pickup to "make decisions for the future of this program."