Recycling coming to unincorporated Lake County

Recycling service will be extended to all households in unincorporated Lake County as of Jan. 1, whether they want it or not.

While curbside recycling already is offered by waste haulers to many homes in unincorporated areas, a new county law requires it be provided universally as part of the trash service.

“Now, you’re going to get recycling whether you like it or not and you’re going to pay for it,” said Walter Willis, executive director of the Solid Waste Agency for Lake County.

Willis estimated the new law would apply to the 20 percent to 30 percent of an estimated 30,000 households in the unincorporated areas that do not have recycling provided by their trash haulers. The law, which is a modification to the county’s Solid Waste and Recycling ordinance, requires haulers to provide recycling containers.

Depending on the hauler, the extra cost is estimated to at $4.50 to $6 per month, according to the waste agency. Residents may be eligible for a discount by asking for a larger recycling container and/or a volume-based pricing option, Willis added. Also, homeowner associations and townships can form franchises that could provide savings.

The recycling requirement is an outgrowth of the 60% Recycling Task Force, formed in 2010 with the goal of reducing the amount of waste dumped in landfills by 40 percent by 2020.

After meeting a dozen times over more than a year, the 27-member group emerged with 36 recommendations covering residential and commercial areas as well as construction and demolition debris.

“We worked through that process and implemented a number of those key recommendations,” Willis said. Among them is a provision that haulers had to offer recycling to residential, multifamily and commercial users.

“(It) was one thing to offer it but this ordinance change went a step further,” he said of the new rule. “It’s requiring you have to use the service.”

Haulers also have to provide residential customers with general information on recycling every two years. Haulers also must contact current commercial customers who are not recycling — in writing once ever two years.

Another component of the modified law applies to trash collection, Willis said.

“The haulers have to offer some ‘pay as you throw’ alternatives,” he said. “The thought is you use less, you pay less.” That option currently is available in two dozen or more communities, he added.

In other recycling matters, Grayslake and Libertyville have awarded franchises for trash pick up from commercial users beginning in 2015, joining Highland Park and Highwood. Bannockburn and Deerfield are considering similar proposals, according to Willis.

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