Is your blue cart recycling tossed in a landfill?

In 2011, Chicago’s residential recycling pickup was divided into six zones. Waste Management picks up recycling on the West, Northwest and Far South sides. Lakeshore Recycling Systems picks up recycling on the South Side. The city’s Streets and Sanitation department picks up recycling on the North and Southwest sides.

Each of the collection crews determines if a bin is “contaminated,” meaning the crew says the blue cart contains non-recyclables such as garbage or plastic bags. The full contents are then sent to landfills without sorting out any clean recyclables that may still be inside.

Recycling carts at homes serviced by Waste Management were labeled contaminated more than 20 times as often as the rest of the city.

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Dots are scaled by total reported contaminations from July 2013 through June 2018.

Data was obtained via the Freedom of Information Act from Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation. Addresses have not been individually vetted. See the raw data.

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