Evanston participates in national recycling competition this month

Ciara McCarthy

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It will be Evanston’s sixth year participating in the Cans for Cash City Recycling Challenge, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl announced Friday. Tisdahl also dubbed April “Evanston CAN Recycle!” month.

The purpose of the national program is to promote recycling aluminum cans. The structure of the contest is simple: Residents continue recycling aluminum cans as usual, and at the end of the month, the city will tally the total number of cans received.

“People just continue doing the great job that we’re doing recycling,” said Jim Maiworm, Evanston’s superintendent of streets and sanitation.

Cities can win cash prizes for having the most cans collected in relation to population or having the most innovative and creative ideas. In each category, the first place city earns $25,000, the second place $15,000 and the third place $5,000, according to the Cans for Cash website.

“Cans for Cash is a great way to make sure that aluminum cans go into the recycling bin and not the garbage,” said Catherine Hurley, the city’s sustainable programs coordinator. Hurley said she hopes the program will remind Evanston residents to recycle.

Evanston is one of 42 cities currently registered for the challenge, but others may apply until May 11. In 2010, 107 million cans were collected around the country, said Jubi Headley, the managing director of the Municipal Waste Management Association. This year, Cans for Cash is hoping for a national total of 125 million cans, Headley said.

City spokesman Eric Palmer said any money earned from the contest would be reinvested in sustainable initiatives in some way. In particular, Palmer noted the Cans for Cash program is similar to another Evanston initiative — G.R.E.E.N., or Greater Recycling in Every Evanston Neighborhood, which has increased the number of recycling bins in public parks and business districts.

“We want to encourage (residents) to recycle some of the same things that they would recycle at home while they’re on the go,” Palmer said.

Weinberg junior Madeleine Steger, the co-president of Students for Ecological and Environmental Development, said although SEED is not officially involved with the program, she is glad to see the city’s continued recycling initiatives. Steger, who lives off campus, noted the ease of the program.

“We recycle anyways, so the good thing about the program is that you don’t have to do anything special,” she said.

Ultimately, Steger added that she appreciates the Cans for Cash initiative because it increases awareness about the importance of recycling.

“It’s important, for both students and residents, to understand how good it is to recycle and why we should make it part of our lifestyle.”