City Council Amends Recycling Ordinance to Reflect Current Industry Standards

July 20, 2016

Updates 20 year old ordinance to provide more clarity to property owners and stronger enforcement for the City

City Council today amended the Chicago Recycling Ordinance to reflect the most current standards within the recycling industry. The ordinance now provides greater clarity to property owners regarding their recycling requirements while also giving city officials stronger enforcement capabilities.

“As the industry continues to evolve, it’s important that Chicago’s ordinance reflects current standards to ensure every resident has the opportunity to recycle,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We are requiring more recycling access and education to help improve the environment while creating a better quality of life for all Chicagoans.”

The new Chicago Recycling ordinance will take effect on January 1, 2017.

Under the amended ordinance, property owners of multi-unit residential, office and commercial establishments will now be mandated to provide source-separated, single stream recycling; the most commonly used collection method in the industry. Property owners will also be responsible for implementing an ongoing educational program that includes posting signage, providing adequate carts and sending written notice to tenants about the changes.

The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) will handle enforcement of the ordinance that includes a 30-day warning period and graduated penalties for non-compliance.

“The Department looks forward to working together with building owners to help educate them on these changes,” said DSS Commissioner Charles L. Williams. “There are no losers in recycling. It is not only good for the environment, but good for Chicago’s bottom line as it reduces disposal costs by diverting waste to be reused, rather than deposited in landfills.”

In 2011, Mayor Emanuel implemented a managed competition for recycling services in an effort to create efficiency and reduce operation costs on behalf of taxpayers. Managed competition decreases operational recycling costs by $12 million annually and paved the way for the citywide recycling expansion. In 2013, Chicago completed the expansion of its blue cart recycling program that provides bi-weekly recycling collection services to the more than 600,000 residents who live in single family homes, two-flat, and three-flat and four-flat buildings.

For more information on recycling in Chicago, visit

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