Department of Streets and Sanitation Commercial and High-Density Residential Recycling Enforcement Audit

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed an audit of the Department of Streets and Sanitation’s (DSS) enforcement of recycling requirements for commercial and high-density residential buildings (i.e., those with five or more units). The objective of the audit was to determine if DSS ensures that building owners are providing collection services required by the Chicago Recycling Ordinance. In addition, the audit evaluated DSS’ enforcement of reporting requirements for the City’s licensed private haulers—companies engaged in hauling refuse and recyclables from commercial and high-density residential buildings. The required annual reports identify a hauler’s customers, catalog the total amounts and types of materials hauled, and specify which facilities received them.

Based on the audit results, OIG concluded that DSS does not ensure that commercial and high-density residential building owners provide recycling services. In addition, DSS does not ensure that private haulers submit complete, accurate, and timely reports detailing the buildings they served, and the amount and type of materials hauled. This data would be useful to the City for establishing recycling goals, monitoring progress towards these goals, and determining waste diversion rates. While recent changes in the global marketplace for recyclable materials have presented challenges for municipal programs, other cities are adapting rather than abandoning recycling altogether.

In response, DSS stated that it agrees with the recommendations and will begin to implement corrective actions. The Department is awaiting the results of a comprehensive waste study before moving forward with some of the recommendations.