In an effort to increase service efficiency and crew productivity, the City of Chicago is changing its garbage collection methods from a ward-based collection system to a “grid” system, creating routes bordered by main streets and natural boundaries rather than artificial ward boundaries. The City’s far north side is the first area to experience the change.
Beginning Monday, June 11th, 49th Ward households, as well as households in the neighboring wards, will receive City garbage pick-up on either Monday or Tuesday, depending on where they live.
Below is a map that sets forth the new grid and the days of the week that household garbage will be collected:
49th Ward residents who live north of Pratt and/or east of Sheridan (the blue area) will receive garbage pick-up every Monday. 49th Ward residents who live south of Pratt and west of Sheridan (the red area) will receive garbage pick-up every Tuesday.
The change in garbage collection days applies only to households whose refuse is collected by City of Chicago crews (households in one- to four-unit buildings). If you live in a building of five units or greater, your refuse is collected by a private scavenger and your collection days are controlled by the contract entered into by your landlord, co-op, or condominium association.
I initially was skeptical of the proposed changes, as the ward-based system of collecting garbage provides for local accountability. Under the current system, the laborers who collect the garbage work directly under the supervision of the fifty ward superintendents, who in turn are accountable to the aldermen. This gives the aldermen the ability to respond promptly to requests from their constituents, such as a request to pick up a missed collection or bulk items. We also are able to address promptly any emergencies that arise, such as “fly dumping” incidents where refuse, such as bags of trash, old mattresses, appliances, construction debris, old tires and the like, are dumped illegally in City alleys or vacant lots.
However, a combination of the City’s financial crisis and the new ward boundaries convinced me to support the new grid system. Though the 49th Ward and the other far north side wards remain relatively compact under the new ward maps, the new ward boundaries in the rest of the City are often extremely convoluted. Simply put, it no longer made financial sense to base garbage collection routes on ward boundaries.
I have been assured by City officials that other than a possible change in the day their garbage is picked up, 49th Ward residents will experience no change in streets and sanitation services. The city wastebaskets on commercial and arterial streets will continue to be emptied regularly and my ward superintendent, Greg Wagner, will continue to have the tools he needs to respond promptly to special service requests. I will monitor the change closely to make sure this is the case.
Mayor Emanuel’s administration estimates the new grid collection system will save Chicago taxpayers an estimated $20 million a year. By utilizing more efficient routes, City officials estimate the City will use up to 20 percent fewer crews while providing the same refuse services to Chicago residents. Additionally, by working in a grid, the City will significantly reduce the expense associated with fuel, vehicle purchase and vehicle maintenance. Greg, my ward superintendent, provided valuable neighborhood expertise and feedback to make the proposed 49th Ward routes as efficient as possible.
If you have any questions about the new garbage collection system, please reply to this e-mail or call my Ward Service Office at 773-338-5796.