Chicago Union Station sees more than 32 million passengers and visitors each year pass through its doors. Recycling much of the waste generated by the visitors can be quite a challenge, since specially designed recycling containers are only allowed in some portions of the complex. This limits places where customers can directly recycle.
Keeping this in mind, Union Station has put in place a simple but effective way to handle this unique and challenging situation. In order for recycling to be successful under these circumstances, Union Station uses clear bags in all of its trash cans. The trash is collected on a daily basis and the clear bags allow the staff to identify the recyclable materials.
These recyclable materials from customers are placed into a designated compactor, along with paper generated from the offices and all cardboard generated from the commercial vendors. Both the trash and recycling compactors are emptied on a daily basis.
The recyclable materials are transported to the Allied Waste Services Material Recovery Facility, where the materials are dumped and processed. The sorting process targets the cardboard, mixed paper, aluminum, plastic, metal and glass generated from Union Station. Each commodity is processed, baled and shipped to mills across the USA and China for reuse.
The remaining trash is dumped at a separate Allied Waste Services facility called a Transfer Station. Allied Waste Services is required by the City of Chicago to sort as much non-contaminated recyclable material out of the waste stream as possible. Any recyclable materials discovered at the Transfer Station are sent to the Material Recovery Facility.
In the future, Union Station will be looking to add recycling bins to the public areas that will meet the same safety guidelines set forth for the trash bins. Chicago Union Station is continually working on ways to improve the recycling program and educate the public as well.
Stay on the Right Track... Recycle!