Blue Bins

Chicago Recycling

There is still ongoing confusion as to how Chicagoans recycle, and what items can or can’t be thrown into the blue bins.
In some instances, one simple item, like a greasy pizza box or plastic bags, will cause the entire contents of the blue bin to be labeled as trash instead of being recycled.
In the case of plastic bags, even the thicker ones from retailers, typically clog up recycling machines and cause equipment failures. Other items like coffee cups cannot be separated from the waxy lining and shouldn’t be recycled either.

Here are the most common items that are mistakenly sent for recycling, but shouldn’t be, otherwise the entire blue bin contents are sent to the trash instead:

  • Plastic bags: Should not be used to bag other items neither. Items should be thrown loose and freely in blue bins.
  • Shredded paper
  • Pizza boxes: The grease causes equipment failure and malfunctions.
  • Styrofoam
  • Coffee cups: Due to inability to separate paper from the wax lining.
  • Electronics: These need to be disposed of separately. Chicago has a special electronics/battery recycling program for this.
  • Clothing
  • Potato chips and other snack bags
  • Toys and other odd-shaped plastics like laundry baskets
  • Cord like products: garden hoses, cables/cords, Christmas tree light. They wrap around the equipment causing failure.

You can check with the City of Chicago as well for specific items that can or can’t be recycled.

Sherwin L. Sucaldito, REALTOR®, GREEN, ABR, CRPM
The Institute of Luxury Home Marketing
Green REsource Council, GREEN
Accredited Buyer’s Representative , ABR
Certified Residential Property Manager, CRPM
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