In Cuyahoga County, most recyclable materials do not end up in a landfill. In every Cuyahoga County community besides the city of Cleveland, recyclables are still taken to a material recovery facility to be recycled, according to Executive Director of the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District Diane Bickett.
The demand for paper and cardboard is rising, she added, because companies are ramping up production of toilet paper.
Confusion and questions arose last week when Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said that the city’s recyclable materials were being thrown away with the trash. The city’s contract for recycling such materials expired on April 1. Ms. Bickett assured county residents that aside from Cleveland, recycling is “business as usual.” There are 59 communities in Cuyahoga County with curbside recycling programs except Cleveland and Richmond Heights.
“We’ve spent so much time building up confidence in the recycling program,” Ms. Bickett said last week. “We didn’t want this to alter people’s behavior and participation in it.”
After hearing Cleveland’s announcement, the solid waste district issued a statement to clarify that only recyclables in the city of Cleveland were being taken to landfills. Ms. Bickett said that sometimes people equate Cleveland with Cuyahoga County as a whole.
She added that the solid waste district is aware that recyclables that came from Cleveland were more contaminated than other communities. Rather than a small contamination issue, Ms. Bickett said that people were using their recycling cart as a second trash cart.
“The curbside recycling [program] is not designed for everything,” she said.
Ms. Bickett reminded residents of Cuyahoga County what is acceptable in their recycling bins, including cans, cartons, glass bottles used for food and drinks, plastic bottles and jugs and paper and flattened cardboard. All materials need to be empty, clean and dry. Boxes must have nonrecyclable packing material such as Styrofoam and bubble wrap removed.
There is an increased demand for paper and cardboard right now, Ms. Bickett added, because paper mills have increased their production of cardboard boxes and toilet paper due to lifestyle changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Now there is more demand and the price for paper is coming back up,” she said.
There are four main haulers in Cuyahoga County including Kimble, Waste Management Republic and Rumpke. Kimble has a material recovery facility in Twinsburg, Waste Management in Akron, Republic in Oberlin and Rumpke in Cincinnati.
Ms. Bickett advised residents to call their local solid waste district with further questions. Residents of Geauga County are part of the Geauga-Trumbull Solid Waste Management District.