Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blue Bin or Blue Bag, Same Old Garbage

Let's take a walk down memory lane. Do you remember when (this was several environmental death knells ago) we were all going to drown in trash? And all the good children of a distressed Mother Earth began to gather various catagories of "recyclables" into their respective containers, from whence they were reborn.

But not Chicago. We were to stuff it all - bottles and cans and papers and plastics - into the well-advertised (and expensive) Blue Bag. We watched our carefully hoarded bottles break free and shatter in the compactor, no doubt decorating rotted meat and slimy lettuce with the glitter of their shards. Did anyone sincerely believe . . .

So why the Blue Bag?

Among those jumping on the bandwagon was the then-recently elected Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, the first of his many attempts to establish his green credentials. But instead of going for a relatively simpler, less expensive and more effective model deployed by most other jurisdictions, Daley decided he had to do it His Way, meaning, as Chicago columnist John Kass calls it, the Chicago Way. Contracts had to be awarded, concrete poured and friends rewarded. Ergo, the Blue Bag. . .

Four new sorting facilities were originally expected to cost $28 million; eventually three were built for $60 million, keeping intact Daley’s habit of racking up fulsome overruns (e.g. Millennium Park, O’Hare Airport). That’s in addition to the $13 million to operate it.

Waste Management Corp. won the contract to build and operate the system; only one such system operated in the country, in Omaha, Neb.. by, of course, Waste Management. Bill Daley, the mayor’s brother, was on the board of a company subsidiary. (Dennis Byrne, Chicago Daily Observer)
But, it's all history now - blue bags are out. We'll soon have blue bins. Think blue bins hold more cash than blue bags? I bet they do.

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