My recycling was tagged. Now what?

Recycling pickup crews are required to tag blue carts that contain obvious problem materials. Problem materials can be anything that’s not recyclable, the most harmful ones are listed on the tag. 

In cities big and small, cart tagging has proven to be an effective way to reduce the number of non-recyclable items (aka: contaminants) ending up in recycling carts. That’s important because contamination reduces the quality of  Chicago’s recyclables as a whole and decreases the efficiency of the program.

Tags allow for one-on-one custom feedback so the issue can be identified and corrected. 

If your cart is tagged

  1. Crews will mark the problem material on the tag so it can be corrected. Take note of the issue and correct it for next time.

  2. Review but don't remove the tag. The tag alerts garbage crews that the cart contains trash. 

  3. The garbage crew will empty your cart and remove the tag.

How to avoid the tag

  1. Know what’s actually recyclable. Review this recycling guide to see everything that’s recyclable, and what’s not. Keeping non-recyclable items out of the blue cart is crucial because they’ll end up at the landfill anyway, after wasting a whole bunch of energy, time, and tax dollars. 

  2. Clean out food, drain out liquids. Food and liquids are harmful because they lower the overall quality of the City’s recyclables, plus they ruin any paper and cardboard they contact along the way. If a recyclable item isn't empty, empty it or leave it out.

  3. Don’t bag your recyclables. Toss items loosely in the blue cart, without a bag. Bags gum up the recycling machines and cause shutdowns. They’re also dangerous for workers to open because there’s no telling what’s inside or if the contents are trash that can ruin other recyclables.

    All plastic bags and plastic wrap are prohibited in the City’s recycling program.

    Recycle plastic and bags, bubble wrap, and dry-cleaner bags at local retailers like Jewel-Osco, Mariano’s, Target, Best Buy, or Walmart instead. Look for the drop-off recycling bin located next to the front entrance.  

    The plastic collected in these recycling bins is used to create weatherproof composite decking, playground equipment, and even new recycling bins! 

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