City takes bids on privatizing curbside recycling

March 31, 2011 2:57:18 PM PDT
Only about a third of all Chicagoans have blue carts to fill with recyclables- but the city may expand the program by privatizing it.

The City of Chicago confirms it has received bids for eight firms to privatize curbside recycling services for an additional 350,000 households. No deal has been struck, according to the mayor's office, but a contract appears to be under review. The city says any deal would have to benefit taxpayers by improving services or saving money.

Union representatives for streets and sanitation workers want a fair shot and some environmental activists are urging the city to really research the decision.

Lou Phillips is a member of Labors Local 1001, which represents works with the City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation. "They would come in, you know, and hire people from outside of the city and when they get their paychecks they would say this is not where I will spend the money, not like the union members of the city of Chicago," Phillips said. "We can be very competitive with a private companies. Put us on a level playing field."

The union proposed the city council ratify future privatizations of city services with a two thirds majority vote. Alderman Danny Solis, 25th Ward, is reserving judgment on the privatization possibility even though he says his constituents are clamoring for carts.

"We have to analyze what the problems are, what the potentials are in terms of resolutions and then we will make decisions, " Ald. Danny Solis said.

Mike Nowak with the Chicago Recycling Coalition says that while expanding the city's program is a good thing, there's no reason to rush into it. Nowak thinks the city, which has had years of problems with its recycling program, should wait until Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel is in place.

"Why now? Why not wait a month and have the Rahm Emanuel administration come in and look at the issue and do it right?" Nowak said.