February 13, 2015

Univ. designer creates recycling website

Your building doesn’t recycle? There’s a website for that.

Claire Micklin, an interaction designer in the University’s IT Services department, and a group of developers from across the city have created a website called My Building Doesn’t Recycle! to survey buildings around the city where landlords don’t comply with recycling codes. The group—a part of Open Gov Hack Night (OGHN), a weekly technology event in downtown Chicago—developed the website on January 27.

According to Chicago law, “the owner of each high density residential building shall provide to the residents of each building an effective recycling program.” The legal code defines “high density” as having five units or more. Many landlords however do not comply with this law and the city does not do much in the way of enforcing it, Micklin said. The website allows residents of Chicago to list their apartment building if they find that their landlord isn’t complying with the legal code.

Micklin contends that “the goal of creating the website is to get the city to enforce the law.”  My Building Doesn’t Recycle! says that "Once there are a significant number of reports [their] group can begin to use these reports to show elected officials a rough estimate of how many multi-unit buildings are not providing recycling services.”

Third-years Carson Gaffney and Sam Taylor, residents of MAC a partments—a widely used property management firm in Hyde Park—live in a building listed on the website as not complying with recycling codes. Taylor said that his building is in fact set up in accordance with the code, but the main issue is that the residents don't comply with the recycling code. “There are three bins, two for trash and one for recycling, that are all used by residents of the complex,” he said.

Gaffney added that “[the bins are] not sorted or organized, but it has to do with the residents of the buildings…a lot of people just dump their trash in the recycling bin.” —Isaac Easton