Recycling by the Rules

Recycling by the Rules
Chicago Blue Recycle Bin

As a Chicago resident, you might have noticed that recycling in the city has a number of roadblocks. The rules are a little fussy – glass is recyclable unless it’s broken; plastic is usually recyclable but Styrofoam is not – and if you live in a multi-family building, you may not even have access to recycling bins to set out your trash. Implementing a recycling plan can be expensive for an association.

But things have changed since January 1, 2017 when the City of Chicago mandated that all condominium associations and other multi-unit residential buildings implement source-separated recycling. This new ordinance requires residents to separate recyclable materials from waste, and place it in designated recycling containers for collection – frequently these are bright blue bins. These recyclable items must be kept separate from trash until they are recycled back into consumer goods.

The Impact on Associations
To comply with the ordinance, an association must make enough Chicago recycle bins available to residents in interior and/or exterior areas, but just providing the bins is not all. The association must also post signs advising owners and residents that source-separated recycling is required by the Municipal Code of Chicago, implement an education programs for all residents, and give written notice to owners and residents within 10 days of any changes to the program, so that occupants have the information they need to comply.

Harsh penalties await buildings that don’t comply with the new ordinance, but not to worry – Lieberman Management Services has trained our entire team of city Property Managers in how to implement source-separated recycling programs in associations. If you building is not yet compliant, we can walk you through the process to get started. In addition, the website Recycle By City is a fun resource that gives clear guidance on what and how to recycle various types of trash. Visit them at

Increase Resident Satisfaction
Chicago Associations that have recently started a recycle program have found it gives their residents a boost in satisfaction with their Board and building – green initiatives like these are popular. For this reason, it’s a relatively low-cost way to add services for your owners. And if you’d like to go above and beyond, you could even start a separate specialty recycle program for large items or things like “Styrofoam” (polystyrene) that can’t be recycled in Chicago’s blue bins.

If your Association has fallen behind in complying with the new ordinance, call your property manager today to get started. Your residents will thank you – and Chicago will be a greener home!