Cleveland’s recyclables going to landfill after recycling contract expired April 1

Cleveland’s recyclables going to landfill after recycling contract expired April 1
(Source: WFIE)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Since April 1, all of the recyclable materials collected in Cleveland have gone straight to a landfill because of an expired contract.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson issued this statement about the situation:

"As a city, we have long prided ourselves on our commitment to sustainability. Since 2009, we have worked to embed sustainability across our city operations and the broader community. Changing the way we handle solid waste is a key component of this, and our commitment to improving our waste collection and processing features heavily in our recently update Climate Action Plan.

Recycling is a critical component of that commitment. You may have recently seen media reports regarding changes in the way we handle residential recycling and where those materials ultimately end up. We think it is important to share with you how we got where we are and where we intend to go moving forward. As a city, we remain committed to being good environmental stewards and we remain committed to recycling," Mayor Frank Jackson said.

Once the recycled materials were collected by Department of Public Works employees, the materials were taken to the Ridge Road Transfer Station before being hauled away by a third party agency for processing.

However, Jackson said the contract with the company that hauled those recycled materials away expired on April 1.

Prior to that expiration date, the city made two attempts to secure a new contract for the service.

No companies bid to take the city’s recycled materials the first time, and the city only received one bid the second time, according to the mayor.

Jackson said that bid would have charged the city “well above market prices” per ton, potentially increasing the cost of the recycling program by $6 million annually.

Jackson attributed the unbudgeted, increased costs to three factors:

  1. “fundamental changes in the global market for recycled materials has changed dramatically since our citywide program was launched. When we launched our program, we were being paid for our materials. This is not the case any longer.”
  2. “the company that bid on our contract had higher than anticipated transportation costs dues to the fact that materials would be hauled to Southwest Ohio.”
  3. “our rate of contamination in our materials is higher than we would like to see – about 68% of recycled materials are contaminated and have to be sent to a regular landfill – which increases the price we would have to pay.”

According to the mayor, the city has selected a consultant to evaluate the entirety of how to address local waste, both solid and recycling.

The consultant is tasked with a sensible solution that is consistent with the city’s commitment to environmental sustainability and financially responsible, according to the announcement.

Jackson said he expects that consultation to be complete in a few months, but in the mean time, city officials will provide opportunity for public input.

In the midst of this news, the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District ensured residents that the situation pertains to the city of Cleveland only.

CCSWD reiterated what the mayor had said the city of Cleveland’s problems were largely caused by residents not recycling correctly.

“Proper recycling reduces the cost of recycling by reducing the amount of non-recyclable material that has to be removed from the marketable materials,” CCSWD said.

To recycle right, you can only place cans, cartons, glass bottles, jugs, plastic bottles, boxes and mixed paper unbagged in you recycling bin.

According to CCSWD, curbside recycling collected in the other 57 communities in the county are sent to three Northeast Ohio material recovery facilities to be processed.

CCSWD said there are still some drop-off recycling options available for Cleveland residents, including aluminum cans, mixed paper, and cardboard.

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