CHICAGO – The City of Chicago used a managed competition process for the City’s blue card recycling program during the summer of 2011 in an effort to reduce operational costs.

A news release from the City stated that just three months after the program’s launch, labor unions and the City government have reduced costs by 31%, from $3.15 million in July through September, 2011, to $2.16 million.

The managed competition program was between two private sector companies – Midwest Metal Management and Waste Management – and Chicago Department of Sanitation Services' (DSS) workers.

The City’s crews lowered the price-per-cart from $4.77 at the beginning of the competition to $3.75 per cart for the month of December. The key factors in improving savings are using fewer vehicles, more efficient vehicle routes, flexible scheduling, and fewer crews.

According to Tom Alexander, assistant press secretary at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, the program was able to reduce the number of vehicles needed for the program from 22 to 16. The City transferred the vehicles to other, unfilled duties, as well as the personnel, Alexander said.

The Chicago Streets and Sanitation Department’s Chief Spokesperson Matt Smith said each truck has a daily shift rate associated with it of $244 per day. Included in that shift rate are costs for fuel, maintenance, repairs, and the cost of the truck itself. By using the vehicles more effectively, the City can use those same funds to expand services.

The mayor’s office stated that by reducing the price-per-cart cost, the City will be able to expand the recycling program to more than 20,000 additional households, which will bring the total number of households in the program to more than 260,000.

By Greg Basich