Chicago residents try to recycle without curbside assistance

For many Chicago residents, recycling isn't as easy as putting the bin on the curb and waiting for a truck to come take it away. Instead, many residents have to personally take the materials to a waste disposal themselves. reports that only one third have access to curbside recycling programs - consequently, less than 10 percent of recyclable waste is properly disposed.

"For such a so-called green city it’s really kind of embarrassing," resident Rachel Dooley told the news source. "You think about one bar over the weekend, and how many bottles and cans are just thrown away – it's scary."

Dooley and others who have become fed up with Chicago's lack of green initiatives have taken matters into their own hands. They are now looking to the Resource Center, a 35-year-old nonprofit organization, for assistance.

The main problem appears to be financial. Chicago originally planned to implement a blue cart recycling program in all of the city's wards, but was hesitant to incur the cost. Additionally, some experts are concerned with single stream solutions, because when residents dispose of all their materials in one bin, items can become contaminated and useless to a recycler.

"The real question is: is that material getting recycled? Or is 15-17 percent ending up in landfills? The city has a reasonable recycling law if it’s enforced," recycling director of the Resource Center Mike McNamee told the news provider.

All across the country, cities, towns and individuals are banding together to try and help increase awareness of the importance of recycling. reports that, in 2004 alone, 55 billion aluminum cans ended up in landfills - enough to fill the Empire State building twenty times - and less than one percent of plastic products are recycled.