About the Rethink Recycling Campaign

What is this campaign about?

Due to significant increases in recycling processing costs, The City of Lake Forest is conducting a two-year campaign to lessen recycling waste from 25% to 10%. If the goal is met, our recycling processing costs will be reduced by 25% per ton. To achieve this goal, residents are asked to rethink how they recycle in order to save significant revenue for the City. The focus of the campaign is on what should and should not be placed in a recycling bin.

How long will the campaign run?

Rethink Recycling is a two-year campaign that includes ongoing measurement and evaluation for the life of the effort. It is possible we will adjust the program timetable based on results lessening recycling waste.

What are the goals of the campaign?

To reduce recycling waste from 25% to 10% thereby reducing the city’s recycling processing costs by 25% per ton.

Who paid for this campaign?

The Lake Forest Garden Club generously provided the City of Lake Forest with a community grant totaling $110,000 to fund this expansion of Lake Forest’s Recycling Education Campaign. The Lake Forest Garden Club, established 1912, is a long-time partner and collaborator with The City of Lake Forest and a leader in advocating for environmental conservation, beautification and educational efforts that benefit residents, visitors and businesses in Lake Forest and beyond.

How are you measuring the success of the campaign?

The Rethink Recycling campaign is being evaluated on an ongoing basis by the city’s Public Works department. We’re measuring the reduction in recycling waste in route to the goal of reducing waste from the current 25% down to 10%. Measurements of recycling waste are available to all residents via the News page of this website.

Who is Bart the Cart?

I can answer that one. Hi everyone! I'm Bart the Cart. My job is to help Lake Forest residents learn what should and should not be placed in their recycle bins. I've organized my recommendations into four basic guidelines: Empty & Clean, No Plastic Bags, No Styrofoam, No Tanglers. Pretty simple, right? And it's really important. If we follow these guidelines, our recycled materials won’t clog recycling machines, because that causes additional work for the processors and ultimately drives up costs to the City.

Can I recycle this?

Starbucks cups and lids?

Hot cups? Sorry, nope. Starbucks cup lids and cups, as well as other hot cup lids and cups are not recyclable. Cold cups and lids (clear plastic), ARE recyclable, as they are #5 plastic.

Shredded paper?

Not curbside, but the first Saturday after federal taxes are due, Lake Forest hosts a shredding event where you can also bring previously shredded paper. Check https://www.cityoflakeforest.com/i-want-to/recycle/recycling/ for any updates. Due to the Corona Pandemic the date of the shredding event 2020 is undeterminded at this time.

Amazon envelopes?

Not in your curbside pick up. Plastic bubble envelopes can be recycled provided any paper stickers or labels are removed or cut off, but they are NOT recyclable in our curbside carts. They can be droppeed off at various retailers. Same goes for other plastic bags, bubble wrap and other thin-film plastic bags (like salad bags).

Plant containers and flats?

No. None of them are recyclable in our curbside carts.

Magazines with staples?

YES! You can recycle magazines or books with staples. As with all paper, just make sure it's dry and isn't greasy or dirty.

#6 plastics?

Foam #6 plastics aren't recyclable in our curbside pickup, but you can take them to the Highland Park Recycling Center on Tuesdays and the 1st Saturday of the month, 7 am to 1 pm. Learn more by following this link: https://cms6.revize.com/revize/highlandparkil/environment/docs/Highland%20Park%20Recycling/E006_HighlandPark_FoamDropOff_091718.pdf

Black plastic

Black plastic is NOT recyclable.

Ice cream containers?

Unfortunately, no. Many freezer and grocery items are plastic lined and therefore can't be recycled. Gable-topped packages (like juice boxes) ARE recyclable in curbside carts in Lake Forest.

'Recycled' vs 'Recyclable'

Similar words, different meanings. Just because something says 'recycled' doesn't mean it can be further recycled. 'Recyclable' indicates the material in question can be recycled. It should be noted, though, that some items involve extra cleaning or care (i.e. overyly dusty or dirty) prior to being recycled.

What about K-cups?

Unfortunately, traditional K-cups are fabricated in a way that isn't easily recyclable. So the short answer is 'NO'. They're not acceptable in our curbside recycling carts. More and more manufacturers are creating reusable and recyclable options for personal coffee.

The recycling process in Lake Forest

What is the recycling process in Lake Forest?

Great question! Lake Forest residents place materials to be recycled in their city-issued carts for once-per-week curbside pick up. There are two designated recycling pick up days. If you don't know yours, call (847) 615-4264. The City of Lake Forest Sanitation Section collects the material and contracts with Resource Management to transport and process the recyclable materials. See The City of Lake Forest website Recycling page for additional recycling program details and rules.

Where does our recycling go?

Items to be recycled are delivered to a recycling center where they are sorted and separated into different types of materials (by hand or machine), and reprocessed into new materials destined for manufacturing new products. The recycling process is significantly hampered when materials that can’t be recycled are mixed with approved recyclables (see FAQ "What does 'contamination' mean?).

Improper items such as food contaminated boxes, plastic bags and styrofoam delivered to the recycling center require hand removal thus causing extra labor and significant time delays. This drives up processing costs for the city. Avoiding contamination is critical to keeping our recycling costs lower.

What does 'contamination' mean?

Recycling contamination is when non-recyclable materials or unclean recyclable materials wind up in a single-stream recycle cart. Materials that do not belong can contaminate otherwise clean recyclable materials from being processed and recycled appropriately.

How much does the city pay for recycling annually?

The cost varies annually. The recycling market is dynamic and processing costs and material values change monthly. In 2019, the City paid approximately $200,000 to have 2,700 lbs of recyclable material processed. When we reach our goal of 10% contamination, we'll be saving an $50,000 annually!

Ooops! Card explained

From time to time we'll attach an Ooops! card to your recycling cart. We'll indicate on the card why you received it. It could be that some of your recyclables were dirty, or that you left some common tangling items in the cart. If you have any questions about it, give us a call at 847-810-3542.

Environmental issues with the recycling process

Water use when rinsing recyclables

Try to be conscious of wasting water when rinsing recyclables. You don’t need to wash recyclables like you wash your dishes. Tip: use leftover dishwater to rinse your items. You’ll save water and reduce your water bill. The entire recycling process actually conserves water as it reduces the need to extract and process non recycled materials, which lessens water use. And big picture: Recycling saves energy and when done efficiently supports communities economically.

Emissions from trucking during the recycling process

Recycling reduces the amount of waste trucks take to landfills — that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, conserves natural resources and big picture, saves energy. Moreover, recycling is a jobs creator according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.