Decatur, IL Residents: You're Already Paying for Recycling

Decatur, IL Residents: You're Already Paying for Recycling

Americans generate a lot of trash – 4.51 pounds per day to be exact (United States Environmental Protection Agency). About three-quarters of the stuff we throw away is recyclable, but we’re only recycling about 30% of it (

Junk mail, cardboard boxes, aluminum cans, milk jugs, glass jars – all of these everyday items can be recycled and are on the approved Decatur, IL recycling list.

I think we can all agree we can do more when it comes to recycling and being more conscious of how much trash we generate. While going “zero waste” is a lofty goal, small gestures here and there can make a massive impact.

Using reusable cloth bags at the grocery store, reusing glass jars and yogurt containers, and yes, recycling, are all things you can do starting today to reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill.

Here’s the good news: recycling is available in Decatur, IL. If you’re not already recycling, here’s the somewhat annoying news: you’re already paying for it.

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Recycling Fee Comes Out of Your Water Bill

For any Decatur resident who isn’t already aware, you’re already paying for recycling regardless of whether or not you recycle. Bethany Force, lifelong Decatur resident and mother of 3 explains the recycling fee comes out of your water bill.

“I called the city to set up a recycling service, and that’s when I found out they charge you every single month whether or not you use the service,” she explains.

If you don’t have a recycling receptacle and you pay a water bill, you might as well request your cart from the city so you can begin recycling. The receptacle is free, but if you don’t have one, you’re paying for the recycling service without any way to actually recycle. 

Every three months, Americans throw enough aluminum in the landfills to build our nation's entire commercial air fleet. (

When asked if you can opt-out of the recycling fee, Janet, a representative for the city of Decatur, said, “Not to my knowledge, no.”

Force says she feels the city is not being fair with its residents by charging for a service without providing you with the necessary equipment to utilize it. 

“I felt cheated when I found out the city takes that money out every month regardless of whether or not they provided you with a recycling tote. It’s only a few dollars, but still – if you’re automatically charged, you should automatically receive a recycling bin,” she says.

Once Force got her recycling bin, she explains she was able to downgrade her garbage plan. “We had so many items going into the garbage that could be recycled,” she says.

Set Up Recycling Today

At this time, the City of Decatur only offers recycling to single-family households or multi-family dwellings of up to 6 units. Businesses, churches, and other non-profits cannot order a recycling cart from the city. The city recommends contacting a local commercial recycling service for your options.

If you’d like your free recycling cart, you’ll need to register with the City of Decatur.

You can do that in a variety of ways:

  • Call 217-424- 2784
  • Email your name, phone number, and street address to
  • Mail your information to Recycling Bin Request Development Services, #1 Gary K Anderson Plz, Decatur, IL 62523

Note: The City of Decatur’s website says you can also Register online at, but that website does not exist.

When you register with the city, you’ll receive your free 65-gallon blue recycling cart. Your hauler will let you know the recycling service days in your area.

If you lose your recycling cart for some reason, you can purchase another one from Midwest Fiber Recycling, which costs about $55.

If you live outside of the City limits but still want to recycle, call the County Environmental Management Department at 217-425-6597 to find out if you have any recycling options.

Here are also some direct numbers provided by Macon County Environmental Management for curbside recycling inquiries:

  • Argenta 217-824-3942
  • Decatur 217-424-2778
  • Forsyth 217-877-9445
  • Macon 217-764-3643
  • Mt. Zion 217-864-5425
  • Oreana 217-468-2476
  • Warrensburg 217-672-3222

Items You Can Recycle In Decatur, IL

As a general rule of thumb, you can recycle paper, plastic, metal, glass, and cardboard. Everything from books to household cleaners to aluminum foil is recyclable. 

However, there are a few items that cannot be recycled:

  • Plastic bags (instead, return them to the grocery store)
  • Food and liquids
  • Plastic toys
  • Hypodermic needles
  • Other plastic wraps and films (garbage bags, beverage case stretch wrap)
  • Motor oil and antifreeze containers

There’s a chart on the top of your cart with information on what can and can’t be recycled.

Janet explains that items like plastic bags can clog up the recycling machines. “The machines don’t pick up those items. Not all facilities are like that, though. In Chicago, for example, you can recycle these types of items.”

If you hate to throw out things like grocery bags, Janet says most grocery stores and department stores will take them back.

Consider Composting

In addition to recycling, you might consider composting organic material like yard waste and food scraps. According to the EPA, about 28% of what we throw away can actually be composted.

Composting enriches the soil by retaining moisture and suppressing plant diseases and pests. It also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and perhaps most importantly, it stops organic material from being dumped into a landfill where it releases methane.

In order to successfully compost, you need:

  1. Brown matter, like branches and twigs
  2. Green matter, like glass clippings and fruit scraps
  3. Water

You need equal amounts of browns to greens. Brown produces carbon, and green provides nitrogen. Water then breaks down the organic matter.

According to Cornell Waste Management Institute, composting happens with and without the help of earthworms. Worms will usually find their own way to a compost pile. By their activity in the soil, earthworms offer many benefits: increased nutrient availability, better drainage, and a more stable soil structure, all of which help improve farm productivity.

You can compost at home by selecting a dry, shady spot near a water source. Add brown and green materials and moisten dry materials as you add them. Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and start burying the food waste under 10 inches of your compost.

When the material at the bottom of your compost pile is dark and rich in color, the compost is ready to use! The EPA says this can take from two months to two years. Finished compost is incredible for flower beds, vegetable gardens, indoor plants, or even raked into your lawn as a soil amendment (

If you have yard waste, the Macon County Composting Facility accepts it to make compost. You can talk to your regular hauling service for more information as they will be picking up the yard waste and transporting it to the composting facility.

You can purchase a paper yard waste bag for $2. They also say that loose material is $15 per cubic yard, and for reference, a regular pickup is about 2 yards of loose material.

They also sell compost if you need some for your flowers or vegetable garden! If you have any additional questions, give them a call at 217-424-1626.


There are many ways our Decatur community can come together to reduce the trash going to the landfill. From utilizing the recycling service you’re already paying for to starting a compost pile in your backyard, we can make a difference!

Happy recycling!

The Medicare Checklist for Ages 66+

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The Medicare Checklist for Ages 66+

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