As Evanston works to achieve its Climate Action and Resilience Plan goal of Zero Waste by 2050, the city has launched a monthlong educational campaign to improve residents’ recycling habits and reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill.

Through September, the City’s “Nope” campaign will highlight common items that mistakenly end up in recycling carts, disrupting the sorting process and resulting in less material recycled. Items that should not be placed in recycling carts include:

  • Plastic bags, including garbage bags and grocery bags
  • Items containing food or liquid
  • Greasy pizza boxes
  • Coffee cups
  • Assembled cardboard boxes
  • Wires, hangers and hoses
  • Batteries and electronics
  • Medical waste, including syringes
  • Paper towels and food-soiled paper

“We all want to do the right thing and recycle responsibly, but it’s important that materials that disrupt the recycling process are left out of our carts,” said Kevin Johnson, the City’s recycling and environmental maintenance supervisor. “Plastic bags are one of the biggest culprits, as they jam equipment used to sort recyclables. The good news is community members can recycle plastic bags at City community centers and grocery stores—just not in their recycling carts.”

To reach residents, the city will share a series of images and animated videos on social media and brand three city recycling trucks with informational messaging. Community members can also take the City’s Facebook quiz to test their recycling IQ. Videos, images and information about what can and can’t be recycled can be found online.

“Reaching Evanston’s ambitious Zero Waste goal will take a communitywide effort, and responsible recycling is just one piece of the puzzle,” said Kumar Jensen, the City’s chief sustainability and resilience officer. “Residents can also reduce waste by composting through the City’s seasonal Food and Yard Waste Service or year-round through Collective Resource, the City’s exclusive food scrap hauler.”

Join the Conversation


  1. The most environmental way to

    The most environmental way to deal with plastic bags is to use them as garbage bags.  If anyone is doing without plastic bags entirely, then my comment doesn’t apply to you. But most people I know buy plastic garbage bags, while trying to recycle their grocery bags.

    1. Do our recycle bins end up in the same place as regular trash?

      If so, then we are fooling ourselves with this education program.  Our elected leaders should ask questions to find out.  If there is no effect of using those blue bins, then I am sure the city could find other uses for the money.

      Here is a story on what has happened in the recylcing business.  The conclusion is with a few exceptions (e.g. aluminum) there is no point in recycling.

  2. Paper bags can be used for recycleables

    Though the accompanying video states that recycleables shoud be placed loose in the recycling container, using paper bags creates a more orderly and less noisy way of disposal.

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