Chicago Recycling Coalition

The Chicago Recycling Coalition presents a new paper, entitled "Recycling Policies in Chicago and Beyond: Failures in Information Collection and Provision," by Professor Matthew Shapiro (IIT) and Graduate Student Matt Lithgow (DePaul). 
This paper assesses and evaluates the existing recycling metrics for Chicago and other comparable municipalities. The patchwork system of Chicago’s recycling collection limits our ability to calculate an accurate recycling rate for the city, and this is a function of the city’s limited access to and provision of recycling data. Municipalities must establish policies that make sense, enact laws that embody those policies, create a framework for accountability, and actually hold residents and businesses accountable. To this end, Chicago must provide recycling and composting services to everyone, recycling must be tracked and the attendant data must be made readily available, and its educational initiatives must be overhauled in order to decrease contamination of the recycling stream. 

Chicago, Illinois – August 27, 2015 – The Chicago Legal Clinic has sent a demand letter to the City of Chicago on behalf of the Chicago Recycling Coalition and numerous other environmental and for-profit organizations demanding that the City comply with the Illinois Environmental Protection Act which banned the landfilling of landscape waste in 1990.

The Chicago Recycling Coalition is joined in this effort by Advocates for Urban Agriculture, the Illinois Environmental Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, Openlands, Southeast Environmental Task Force and Uncommon Ground Restaurants, among others.

“In 2010, the City collected over 525 tons of landscape waste, while last year it collected only about 10% of that amount,” said Michelle Thoma, Chicago Recycling Coalition’s President. “It’s obviously an issue that the City is not in compliance with law, but the more serious offense is failure to put landscape waste to good use by composting it, which would result in real and significant progress toward addressing climate change, creating jobs and reducing waste and improving recycling in Chicago—three main areas of focus of the City’s Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda.”

“It’s CRC’s hope that the City will take this opportunity to reevaluate the waste stream and its waste management practices from a holistic perspective, and that this will result in development of a legally-compliant program that addresses landscape waste and all organics, promotes waste reduction and provides better recycling for all Chicago residents and businesses.”

Numerous large cities, including New York, San Francisco and Seattle have implemented successful programs for collection of landscape waste and other organics. In its demand letter to the City, the Chicago Recycling Coalition points out that education and outreach programs for residents are key to the success of these programs.

“We look forward to the City of Chicago’s response to this letter, as well as to working with Mayor Emanuel and his administration to implement a solution that will increase access to recycling and improve policies to promote waste reduction and reuse,” said Ms. Thoma.


The Chicago Recycling Coalition champions environmentally and fiscally sound management of solid waste through research, education, and advocacy, emphasizing waste reduction, reuse, recycling, composting, and buying recycled.

We work to serve the community in an educational and advisory capacity.

Event Announcement: The State of Recycling in Chicago

Monday, July 27,  6:00 - 9:00 PM
Revolution Brewpub, 2323 N. Milwaukee Avenue

CRC is celebrating its 25th anniversary!

Please join us at the State of Recycling event as we celebrate our accomplishments over the

last 25 years, look at the current state of recycling in Chicago and share our victories and challenges ahead as we work to make Chicago a zero-waste city within the next 25 years. 

$25 per person includes open bar and light hors d'oeuvres from 6:00 - 8:00 PM
$50 VIP tickets include all of the above PLUS a pre-event brewery tour at 5:30 PM
Limited event scholarships available; contact us for details

Purchase tickets here!

Featured Speakers:

Claire Micklin, Co-Developer of My Building Doesn't Recycle!
Chris Bentley, WBEZ Curious City Reporter
Meredith C. McDermott, Chicago Public Schools Sustainability Manager

Environmental Organizations Call for City of Chicago to Comply with State Law Banning Landscape Waste from Landfills

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