§ 11-5-023

Establishment of an effective recycling program in commercial establishments


The refuse collection customer for each commercial establishment located in the City of Chicago shall provide an effective recycling program for each such commercial establishment.


Each licensee or license applicant for a City of Chicago business license, which is a refuse collection customer, shall be required to certify in the license application that an effective recycling program will be conducted on the licensed premises during the license period. Each licensee or license applicant shall also provide on the license application the name of their current private hauler and current recycling service provider and whether post-collection, source separation or a combination is utilized at the time of license application. Businesses which are not required to obtain a business license shall provide additional certification.


The recycling programs required by subsection (a) of this section shall meet the requirements of an effective recycling program. An effective recycling program for commercial establishments shall be defined as meeting the following minimum criteria:


The recycling program shall provide for collection of, at a minimum, two recyclable materials designated in subsection (d) of this section; and


The program shall include, at a minimum, one of the following options:


An additional item from the list of recyclable materials designated in subsection (d); or


Two source reduction measures from a list promulgated by the commissioner with the advice of an appointed advisory board as defined in Section 11-5-026(c). This list shall include, but not be limited to, the following: replacing disposable with renewable, refillable or returnable containers; reducing consumer packaging; using boxes, bags or other packaging alternatives made of post consumer recycled materials; switching to wipeable or reusable signage; double-sided copying; using long lasting, energy efficient light bulbs and fixtures; using reusable laser printer and copier toner cartridges; replacing disposable items with reusable items (i.e., dinnerware, towels, placemats and tablecloths); donating surplus food to foodbanks or soup kitchens; providing educational materials (i.e., flyers, brochures, banners, product displays and labels) to customers on ways they can reduce waste; providing on- site collection at buy-back centers, drop-off centers, or other on-site collection and recycling of post consumer materials.


The list of acceptable recyclable materials includes:

Corrugated cardboard;

Glass containers;

Metal containers including aluminum, steel and bi-metal;

Aluminum foil and pans;

Plastic containers;

Mixed paper;

High grade office paper;

Magazines and catalogs;


Wooden pallets;

Plastic film;

Fluorescent bulbs;

High intensity discharge lamps.


Source separated recycling is the method of recycling preferred by the city for commercial establishments. Nothing in this section, however, shall preclude a refuse collection customer from including post-collection separation in its effective recycling program. A refuse collection customer for a commercial establishment may use post-collection separation as the sole method of recycling if it can demonstrate an undue economic, safety or space hardship. The form and content of such a demonstration shall be determined by rule by the commissioner. At a minimum it shall require a source separation feasibility analysis which includes the following:


Identification of the types and relative amounts of waste produced;


A description of the establishment’s layout and operations;


Assessment of existing space and equipment which can be used for storage and collection of municipal waste and recyclables;


Consideration of impact of source separated recycling on disposal costs.

The source separation analysis and other documents used to demonstrate undue hardship shall be kept on the premises as part of the plan for the commercial establishment, required in subsection (g) of this section.


A written plan describing the effective recycling program shall be kept on the premises for inspection by the commissioner. This plan shall, at a minimum, identify: the recyclable materials included in the establishment’s recycling program; the type(s) of collection method(s) utilized; a post-collection feasibility analysis, if applicable; the written quality reports when received under Section 11-5-024(a)(2) of this chapter; the source reduction methods utilized, if applicable; and the post-consumer recyclable material(s) collected on-site, if applicable.


An effective recycling program for commercial establishments may provide for collection and recycling of less than the number of materials required in subsection (c) of this section if the refuse collection customer can demonstrate through means of a waste audit that the establishment’s waste stream contains fewer than the required materials or that an individual recyclable component constitutes more than 51 percent by weight of the establishment’s waste stream. The waste audit shall be kept on the premises as part of the refuse collection customer’s recycling plan as required in subsection (e) and shall be made available for inspection by the commissioner. The commissioner may determine by rule promulgated pursuant to this chapter the criteria for an adequate waste audit for purposes of this section.


Until the commissioner determines that wet waste recycling is commercially and readily available, organic waste shall be excluded from the definition of solid waste for food service establishments, grocery stores and other similar commercial establishments. These establishments shall meet the recycling goals established for that solid waste which remains after the organic waste component has been removed.


A commercial establishment with more than one location in the City of Chicago may utilize a consolidated recycling program including any or all of the locations affected herein.

(Added Coun. J. 11-5-93, p. 40151; Amend Coun. J. 4-16-96, p. 20133; Amend Coun. J. 3-31-04, p. 20916, § 3.33; Amend Coun. J. 11-8-12, p. 38872, § 202)



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