Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thank You for Recycling

In a recent conversation with a Chicago city resident, I was struck by how fortunate Jen and I are to live in a town that not only has a recycling program (Chicago, for all its efforts to become the greenest city in the US, is still woefully lacking in a comprehensive recycling program), but a very good recycling program.

First of all, our recycling containers are big rollaway containers nearly the same size as our regular waste containers, making it attractive to separate and toss things into the big blue bin instead of the waste bin.

But even better, I've learned that most recycling programs generally don't account for all the various types of plastics. Did you know the little triangular Recycle symbol with a number inside it on plastics does not mean it is recyclable? In reality, this symbol is a plastics identification code, hijacked by the plastics industry to mislead consumers. This "code" doesn't tell you the material is recyclable, it merely indicates what type of plastic (the resin) the product is composed of.

In most recycling programs, usually only #'s 1, 2, and 6 plastics are recyclable, but Oak park's recycling program accepts the following plastics.
#1 PETE (plastic soft drink bottles)
#2 HDPE (milk or water jugs, detergent bottles#3 PVC narrow neck containers like household cleaners, health and beauty products
#3 PVC (Narrow Neck Containers Only like household cleaners, health & beauty products)
#4 LDPE (margarine tubs and plastic rings from beverage cans)
#5 PP (yogurt cups, narrow neck syrup and ketchup bottles
#7 OTHER (plastic resin grocery narrow neck containers)

Perhaps best of all, nothing has to be sorted separately, making it easy for those of us who are lazy environmentalists to co-mingle all these plastics together with flattened cardboard packages, newspaper, etc. all in one container. I'm still slowly getting rid of the cardboard protective boxes that surrounded our kitchen cabinets by gradually adding them piece by piece into each week's collection.

I must say that while we don't often wax poetically about the virtues of our city's government, in this instance, our city's recycling program is something that makes me proud to be an Oak Parker. So, thanks Village!


Carol said...

We live in Oak Park too. Most weeks we have more in our recycling container than we do in our trash bin!

Anonymous said...

I'm moving to Oak Park. In Chicago, I have to haul my recyclables off to a private company to be sure it will be recycled properly. Even so, they only accept plastics #1 and #2. I would love to stop throwing away perfectly recyclable plastics.

On the other had, the location at Pulaski and Peterson has friendly staff and you can drop off old electronics equipment.

Interested folks can see more about Chicago recycling here:


jay said...

Only #1 and #2 ?? sheesh. I also found map of Chicago recycling centers provided on the city's recycling bureau web site.

Jocelyn said...

We live in Chicago and we bring our recycling to one of the cities' recycling centers every week or so. Blue bag thing was such a sham. What an embarrasment for a world class city. Mayor Daley should be ashamed of this- I know I am!

By 2012 or so the city is supposed to implement blue cans for all neighborhoods. Big infrastructure moves slowly and inefficiently.

Tiny Oak Park Bungalow said...

We're loving the recycling program out here. We were in a flat building in Chicago and unfortunately most of the larger buildings have NO recycling. It is a little odd though. I am always afraid I am putting too much in our recycling, it's such a liberal program.

Green Fairy said...

I just moved out of Chicago to Evanston; it's still somewhat of a shock each week to see the recyling trucks come right to the house.

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