Blue Carts and Drop-off Sites  


City of Chicago Recycling

Blue Carts

Recycling for City of Chicago citizens is basically defined by the kind of building in which you live. If you live in a building that has four or fewer units (what is loosely called a "single-family" residence), you have been served by the Blue Cart Program, administered by the Department of Streets and Sanitation. Briefly, the program uses source-separted, single stream recycling. Until the 2010 city budget was passed, the city had promised to have blue carts delivered to the approximately 600,000 buildings covered by this program by the end of 2011. However, no money was allocated to Streets and San for 2010. Which means that the roll out of blue carts was frozen at about 240,000 buildings.

Mayor Emanuel's new plan is, apparently, to provide blue carts to the remaining single-family residences, dividing the responsibility for service among two private companies and the Streets and Sanitation Department.

Drop-Off Sites

Until you have a blue cart, you can take your recyclables to one of the 38 drop off locations provided by the city.

Multi-Unit Buildings

If you live in a building with more than five units, you are served by a private waste hauler which has been hired by your building owner or manager or association.This hauler also handles your recycling. By Chicago law (which is honored more in the breach than the observance), your building is required to offer its tenants an effective recycling plan.

If your building doesn't have a recycling plan, or you have questions about the one in place now, the City of Chicago provides a comprehensive guide to multi-unit recycling on its website. In  addition, if you want to know how to get started, the city has developed the Multi-Unit Residential Recycling Toolkit.

Of course, if your multi-unit building doesn't have a recycling system in place, it's back to one of the city's drop off locations.



Blue Cart Recycling Areas 2013

Click here or on the map below to see a large version of the map
and the calendar of pickups.
Click here to see FAQs from the city about blue cart reycling.

What Can You Recycle?
In blue carts and at drop-off centers, you can recycle the following:

glass bottles
aluminum, tin, or steel cans
plastic bottles and containers marked 1,2,3,4,5,7 Not 6
milk, juice, waxy cardboard containers
newspapers, magazines, catalogs, junk mail
telephone books, paperback books, office paper and file folders
cardboard boxes, cereal boxes, paper towel roles, paper bags, etc.

For more information, download this City of Chicago recycling pdf.