Alvin H. Baum Family Fund Environmental Series: Does Recycling Still Matter?

June 11, 2019
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Harold Washington Library Center
Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago Public Library, South State Street, Chicago, IL, USA

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The recycling industry is in crisis. After decades of growth and public acceptance, nearly all Americans now have access to some type of recycling services. But are these services providing what we expect? How much of what we put into the bins is actually recycled? Many people are still confused about recycling rules that change depending on where they live. The ripple effects of China’s recent policy changes to restrict most foreign plastic and cardboard imports have skyrocketed costs in the U.S. and caused some municipalities to close down recycling operations. Meanwhile, Chicago’s program has faced further scrutiny over its handling of the city’s privatized recycling services, highlighted in a recent Better Government Association investigation that found one private company hired by the city has a financial incentive to send recyclable materials to its own dump.

A panel discussion lead by BGA reporter Madison Hopkins and featuring Carter O’Brien, sustainability officer with The Field Museum, Michelle Thoma, president of the Chicago Recycling Coalition and general counsel for Elevate Energy, and Kuldip Kumar, an environmental scientist with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, will explore the future of recycling in Chicago and across the country. The discussion will emphasize ideas for large organizations, local governments, and individuals to understand and what waste management opportunities are available.

This program is part of the Alvin H. Baum Family Fund Environmental Series.

Event Details

Tuesday, June 11th, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Cindy Pritzker Auditorium (lower level), 400 South State Street, Chicago, IL 60605.

This program is FREE to attend, and seating will be first come, first served.

Parking and Transportation

The Harold Washington Center is easily accessible by most CTA trains and multiple bus lines. For detailed travel information visit or call the Travel Information Center at 1-888-YOUR-CTA or 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (TTY). For parking options, please visit

Notice: As a guest of Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST), you agree to be photographed, videotaped, or filmed and grant C2ST permission to put the finished footage/photography to any uses that it may deem proper including marketing, advertising (print, radio, and television) and PR-related activities.