City Of Chicago Asks Residents to Go Bagless When Recycling In Blue Carts

November 16, 2015

New Educational Website Designed to Help Make Recycling Easy

Chicago - The Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) today marked American Recycles Day with the launch of its GO BAGLESS public education campaign.  The campaign will use grassroots outreach and advertising to urge residents to stop using plastic bags to recycle materials in their blue carts.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel made blue cart recycling accessible to all residents in every neighborhood of Chicago.  The program is simple, with no sorting required." said DSS Commissioner Charles L. Williams.  "Everyone wants to do their part to help protect the environment, but when you put the wrong items in the blue cart - like a plastic bag - you contaminate not only your cart but a whole stream of otherwise useful materials." 

Beginning January 1, 2016, all recyclables must be placed in the blue cart loose without a bag.   Recyclables contained in bags of any kind will no longer be accepted.  This will not only help our environment, but also reduce unnecessary costs incurred by the City as a result of contaminated blue carts.

Plastic bags hinder the recycling process by: 

  • Not allowing haulers to see if other non-recyclable materials are in the blue cart;
  • Contaminating the stream of otherwise good recycling material;
  • Damaging the equipment at sorting facilities  

As part of this campaign, the City has partnered with Recycle by City to develop a new educational website that will debut in December.  The Recycle by City Chicago website ( is designed to visually show residents what can and cannot be recycled in a Chicago blue cart.  The site includes common misconceptions about recycling, fun quizzes and additional resources - all to help make recycling easy.

Currently, five materials can be recycled in Chicago blue carts.  They include:

  • Plastic (plastic bottles and containers with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 o 7)
  • Glass (jars and bottles)
  • Metal (aluminum, tin, or steel cans, foil and pie tins)
  • Cartons (milk cartons, juice cartons and aseptic containers)
  • Paper (flattened cardboard, office paper, file folders, magazines, catalogs, newspapers, junk mail, telephone books, etc.) 

Yard waste cannot be recycled in the blue cart, and residents should call 311 from October 19 through November 27 to schedule a separate yard waste collection.  Residents can also recycle household chemicals and computers by taking those items to the Household Chemicals & Computer Recycling Facility at 1150 N. North Branch Street.  All other materials should be thrown in the black garbage cart, donated or to find alternative recycling options visit: America Recycles Day, a program of Keep America Beautiful, is a nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States.

For more information or recycling in Chicago, visit


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