Water, Recycling & Sanitation

Business Planning StageZoning StageLicensing StagePermitting StageAdditional Requirements



If you purchased the property for the business location:

  • Complete the Full Payment Certificate (FPC) process
    • This is required for all real estate transactions and you should check with your attorney who handled the transaction to confirm it was completed
  • If the FPC process was not completed, the FPC application can be completed at our Customer Service Center located at 333 S. State St., Suite 330, or you can download the FPC application and email it to waterbill@cityofchicago.org
  • This process will set up the account in your name

If you are renting property:

If your business is located in a newly constructed building:

  • Your plumber will get a plumbing permit from the Department of Buildings in City Hall
  • Your plumber will coordinated getting a water meter with the Meter Shop of the Department of Water Management
  • The Meter Shop will provide a meter registry card to your plumber
  • Once the meter has been installed your plumber will return the meter registry card to the Meter Shop
  • The Meter shop will contact you or your plumber for an appointment to inspect the meter installation
  • Once a satisfactory plumbing inspection is completed, the water account will be set up



Annual Plastic Bag Recycling Reporting Information
Establishments are required to submit an annual report by the end of March of the following year. The deadline for the 2013 reporting year is Feb. 28, 2014.


All commercial establishments are required to have recycling programs under the Chicago High Density Residential and Commercial Source Reduction and Recycling Ordinance.

Commercial/retail recycling program are required by ordinance to include:

1.    Source separation of at least three recyclable materials (such as newspaper, glass and plastic).  
This means that recyclable materials are separated from other solid waste before the point of collection and kept separated until  they can be recycled. In special cases, a waste service can collect only two materials if the commercial establishment also implements two waste reduction measures, such as using energy saving light bulbs and reusing supplies.

 Approved recyclables include:

  • Newspaper
  • High grade paper
  • Mixed paper
  • Steel and bi-metal cans
  • High-intensity discharge lamps
  • Magazines and catalogs
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Aluminum cans, foil and pans
  • Plastic film
  • Fats, oils and greases
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Plastic containers
  • Wooden pallets
  • Fluorescent bulbs

2.    A written plan detailing the program and made available to all current and prospective office establishments affected by the plan.  At a minimum, the plan should include:

  • Recyclable materials collected and source reduction measures implemented
  • Type type of collection method(s) used
  • Targeted recycling rates
  • Summary of the education program
  • Any written quality reports received from the hauler

3.    An educational program that informs all new employees, and at least annually all affected employees, how to participate in the building’s recycling program and why it’s important to recycle. The program should include:

  • Flyers explaining why it is important to recycle and how the program operates including the types of materials recycled, the location of the collection points, the name of the recycling provider, the collection schedule and a phone number to call with any questions
  • Permanents signs placed in common areas identifying the location of recycling collection points
  • Signs marking the location of all recycling collection points
  • Notification about changes in the recycling plan to tenants and employees within 10 days of any such change

Source reduction measures:


  • Offer customers reusable tote bags instead of disposable bags.
  • Use boxes, bags and other packaging materials made of post-consumer recycled materials.
  • Switch to wipeable or reusable signs.
  • Make double-sided copies.
  • Use reusable laser toner or copier cartridges.
  • Use long-lasting, energy efficient light bulbs with median life expectancies of 9,000 hours of long-lasting, energy efficient fixtures.
  • Donate surplus food.
  • Change to cloth towel dispensers or warm air hand dryers in restrooms.
  • Provide educational materials to customers on source reduction.
  • Return shipping materials to vendors for reuse.
  • Buy supplies in bulk to reduce packaging.
  • Reduce packaging on in-store materials.

Commercial establishments may not use a “post-collection” system, which is any process that separates recyclables from waste after being collected, as the sole method of recycling unless a written waiver is received from the Department of Streets and Sanitation. In order to obtain this waiver for a “post-collection” system, you must be able to show that implementing source separation recycling would cause undue economic, safety or space hardship and provide to the City results of an analytical waste audit.

The basic requirement for commercial establishments is to recycle three items. However, if a commercial establishment can demonstrate through a waste audit that their waste stream contains fewer than the required materials or that one recyclable item constitutes more than 51% by weight of your its waste stream, if you can recycle only that one item. You must keep the waste audit results with your recycling program for review by the Department of Streets and Sanitation.


Please see this letter from Streets & Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams about the ordinances that are relevant for small businesses.

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