Chicago has announced a new strategy to overhaul the City’s waste system with the goal of minimising landfill, increasing diversion and recycling. In addition, the City is seeking to reduce cost, and increase efficiency, maximise economic investment and workforce development opportunities, and address social and environmental justice inequities.
“The City of Chicago Waste Strategy presents an exciting opportunity to take new and innovative approaches to tackle the waste issues that impact our communities, environment and economy,” said Lori Lightfoot, mayor of Chicago.
“We look forward to swiftly implementing many of the recommendations outlined in this report and developing a modern materials management system that minimises landfilling, advances our city’s ambitious sustainability goals and prioritises the needs of our residents.”
The report details more than 63 strategic recommendations to help address waste management, 12 of which are being prioritised by the City in 2021 and 2022. The City of Chicago partnered with Delta Institute, a non-profit specialising in municipal solid waste management planning, to evaluate, assess, document, and update the many interrelated aspects of waste in Chicago.
The University of Illinois at Chicago provided analysis and current condition assessment that informed the proposed strategies.
“The City of Chicago Waste Strategy presents an exciting opportunity to take new and innovative approaches to tackle the waste issues that impact our communities, environment and economy”
The recommended strategies were developed through robust collaboration with more than 90 different City representatives and stakeholders from numerous municipal departments, nonprofits, universities, community groups, and individuals to:
- review current waste and recycling data, programmes, policies, and infrastructure
- analyse best practices and programmes in peer cities
- engage with stakeholders in the City, the private sector, and Chicago neighbourhoods.
The 2021 City of Chicago Waste Strategy is comprised of multiple reports and assessments that include an Existing Conditions Report, Waste Characterisation and Generation Update Report, a Peer City Analysis, and Materials Management Strategies.
Management strategies address key priorities, including: municipal management and data tracking; source reduction including reuse and repair; residential waste reduction; industrial, commercial, and institutional waste reduction; organics and food waste; specialty materials that cannot be managed through traditional recycling methods; and construction and demolition debris.
“Our newly imagined materials management strategy will minimise landfilling and waste processing, the source of 6 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions in the City of Chicago”
The report includes tangible next steps for the City and short-term priorities for 2021 and 2022, which include reviewing policy and ordinances, increasing opportunities for community education and interventions, and strengthening internal operations.
Also among the information presented in the report is the city’s annual waste generation, where in 2020, Chicago generated 4.13 million tons of material waste.
“I am proud to lead mayor Lightfoot’s efforts to improve our waste system and to generate new opportunities to strengthen local communities, generate quality jobs, and improve the overall liveability of our city,” said Angela Tovar, chief sustainability officer, City of Chicago.
“Our newly imagined materials management strategy will minimise landfilling and waste processing, the source of 6 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions in the City of Chicago.”
“The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) is always looking for new ways to divert waste. Recently, we implemented a new contract for the Blue Cart Recycling programme to improve residential recycling programmes, and currently, we are working on reducing food waste through the NRDC Food Matters cohort,” added Cole Stallard, acting commissioner, DSS.
“We are excited to leverage these steps forward and fulfill the priorities in the waste strategy.”