Managed Competition: What Does It Mean?
For the next six months, beginning Monday, October 3, the future of part of Chicago's recycling is being determined by "managed competition." The Emanuel Administration has modified the Daley Administration's plan for privatization and turned it into a plan that will pit three groups in a head to head to head battle for the right to run all or part of Chicago's recycling program: Department of Streets and Sanitation workers, Waste Management and Sims Metal Management Municipal Recycling.
Under the Daley plan, the city was divided into six service areas, all of which were to be outsourced to private companies. Mayor Emanuel modified that plan by assigning two of those areas to city employees to see whether they can effectively compete with private companies. Waste Management is responsible for three areas and Sims has one. The City is giving all three groups exactly six months to prove that they can handle Chicago's recycling efficiently and, at the same time, help cut into the city's massive budget deficit. At that time, reportedly, a cost-benefit analysis will determine which group(s) will continue to handle recycling.
The Chicago Recycling Coalition is concerned about the many questions are still unanswered about the managed competition, including the exact criteria for the cost-benefit analysis. For example, the city can generate revenue by selling materials collected by the Department of Streets and Sanitation. This is only true of those zones serviced by the city rather than by the private contractors. We do not know, however, if revenues from those sales will be counted in the cost-benefit analysis.
In addition, we are concerned about the fairness of the competition, as well as how transparently it will be executed. We also wonder, as do others, whether six months is enough time to determine whether a recycling group should be locked in for the next seven years. We will continue to report on these and other issues over the next few months. If you have questions, comments or observations that you wish to share with us, please post them on our Facebook page.
To make things clear, the blue cart program applies to residences of four units or fewer, sometimes called "single family residences." How the Emanuel Administration will deal with business and residential high rises (more than four units), is still anybody's guess. But even if you live in a single family residence, chances are that you still don't have a blue cart. There are about 359,000 of you in Chicago. When will those arrive? Still uncertain, though the city has reportedly awarded a $25 million contract to Chicago United Industries to purchase as many as 550,000 more containers, which would cover the areas not currently served by the blue cart program.
If you do have a blue cart, you should have received a post card in the mail detailing the changes beginning on October 3, 2011. Your recycling pick up schedule is likely to be slightly different at the start of this new system, so check the mailer for specific information. To find out who will be picking up recycling in your area--whether you have blue carts now or will be receiving them later–the map of the newly-divided service areas is on the (right) For more comprehensive information about recycling in your part of the city, click here to go to the City of Chicago website.