Feed The Thing – Multifamily Recycling Program

Recycle - Feed the Thing ToteIt’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s right outside your door waiting to be fed.  It’s The Thing, Champaign’s non-sort recycling bin located at all shared residences and multifamily residences with five units or more.  Making the right thing, the easy thing to do.

No sorting required.  Paper, Plastic, Metal, Yum.
If it’s good to go, it goes right in.


Got something you need to recycle?  No problem.  The Thing’s not a picky eater.  If it’s paper, plastic, metal, or glass, you can pretty much toss it in, with a few notable exceptions listed here.

PLASTIC AND GLASSRecycle - Plastic
We accept all glass and plastic no. 1-7 (check for recycling symbol on container), as well as plastic shopping bags.  Please rinse all containers and flatten plastic containers to save space. (No #6 Styrofoam in the bins though please!)

CARDBOARD AND PAPER Recycling - Cardboard
We accept corrugated cardboard and boxboard (i.e. cereal, soda, and beer packaging).  Please flatten all boxes.  We also accept magazines, paperback books, paper bags, newspaper and mixed paper, as well as plastic/wax-coated paper (milk and juice cartons).  The clean parts of a pizza box can be recycled!

CANSRecycle - Aluminum cans
We accept most metal cans (tin, steel, and aluminum), including empty aerosol cans.  Labels do not need to be removed.  Please rinse all cans and flatten drink cans to save space.  Clean aluminum foil and trays can also be recycled.

If your recycling needs begin to outpace your holding capacity, just send an email to [email protected] or call the City’s Environmental Sustainability Specialist at 217-403-4780.  We will be glad to add more bins or change the recycling schedule to collect as much as we can.

As a free-ranging forager, you’ll find The Thing at all shared residences and multifamily residences in the City with five units or more.  And, while there are no set rules for its location, it typically goes where the garbage flows, staking out prime feeding locations near dumpsters where pop cans and pizza boxes are abundant.  For more information, ask your landlord or supervisor for sightings in your immediate location.Feed the Thing - Recycling logo

Look for The Thing at:

  • Apartment Buildings
  • Condominiums
  • Co-ops
  • Fraternities
  • Sororities

Pretty much any shared housing arrangement with five or more units!

Would you like a free 5-gallon bucket to collect your recyclables before you Feed The Thing?
You can pick up a free 5-gallon bucket at Champaign Public Works, 702 Edgebrook Drive, Monday thru Friday, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

While the beginnings of many strange creatures are shrouded in mystery, The Thing has a very clear origin.  It all began in September of 2008, when the City Council decided to review recycling programs that hadn’t been revised since the mid-1990s (read the City Council report).  In July 2009, the City Council reviewed the City’s solid waste plans and began to formulate new goals (click here) for the program, which were formally adopted by the Council in August.

First and foremost, the goal was to reduce the amount of solid waste going to landfills.  And there were a lot of great ideas for doing that, including encouraging commercial recycling, promoting recycling in public and private schools, and expanding the list of materials accepted for recycling.  But at the top of the list was a new idea – to make recycling easier by providing onsite recycling for all residential buildings with five or more units.  And thus, The Thing was born.

In October 2009, City staff returned to the City Council with alternatives for providing recycling to these multifamily properties Recycling Totes(read the full report).  Upon their recommendations, Council directed staff to implement a new program, managed by the City and supported by a fee assessed to property owners.  And then, the real work began.  From selecting a hauler to finding a company that would provide 2,750 large collection cans, City staff worked with Council to implement an innovative program that would serve approximately 30,000 people living in Champaign.  A Recycling Coordinator was hired to manage the program, and finally, a local marketing firm was hired to brand the program and get the word out.

On November 2, 2010, Council approved the Ordinance officially enabling the program, and Things literally started to roll, with thousands of carts arriving at residences across the City in the following weeks in preparation for a December 1 launch.  Ultimately, with your help, the City hopes to recycle 2,600 tons of waste annually, making better use of our resources while making our city a more beautiful place to live.

A modest fee of $2.60 per month per residential unit (apartment) has been assessed to the property owner to cover the cost of the program.  For group housing (e.g., fraternities and sororities), the fee is $1.30 per resident, based on the capacity of the facility.  (This fee has remained the same since the inception of the program in 2010.)

Things you can download:

Want to spread the word around your dorm or apartment?  Just click below for materials you can post and pass around.



Stuff and Things:

Recycling BucketsThe City provides FREE 5-gallon indoor kitchen buckets for residents.  The buckets are available in the front lobby of  Public Works, 702 Edgebrook Drive, Monday thru Friday, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.


Helpful Recycling Links:

Feed the Thing - Recycling logo


Not sure if The Thing can handle a specific type of recyclable?  Do you have questions about appliances, computers, and other by-products of modern living that you need to remove from your home?  You can find answers to these questions and more on the City’s recycling webpage.  Or, if you have additional questions, feel free to contact the City’s Environmental Sustainability Specialist:

Environmental Sustainability Specialist
Public Works Department
702 Edgebrook Drive
Champaign, IL  61820

Phone:  217-403-4780
Email:  [email protected]