What you need to know about Cleveland’s new opt-in recycling program

After a year-and-a-half hiatus, curbside recycling is coming back to the city of Cleveland.

Clevelanders have until Oct. 22 to opt in to the new service through an online form or by calling (216) 664-3030. Because the program is optional, those who don’t sign up will have their blue bins removed by the Division of Waste Collection.

The program shut down in April 2020 when the city couldn’t get an affordable contract because of changes in the global recycling market and the fact that many Clevelanders weren’t recycling properly. Now, after hiring consultant GT Environmental to study the city’s waste collection and recycling programs, the city is hoping to get recycling back before the end of the year. 

In its release, the city promoted its new “Circular Cleveland” initiative in partnership with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress as a way that residents can learn more about reducing and reusing waste.

“Recommendations provided by the consultant focused on improving efficiency and supporting waste reduction goals, while still maintaining high levels of service for our residents,” Sustainable Cleveland stated in the release. “While we are excited about an updated recycling program, it is important for our residents to remember that recycling is only one small piece of the waste reduction puzzle. There is currently a limited market for many of the items that can be recycled curbside, leaving a lot of opportunity to put more emphasis on ‘reducing and reusing.’”

There are currently limited resources available on the Circular Cleveland website, which lists a January 2021 meeting as the latest opportunity to get involved.

To oversee the implementation of the new recycling program, the city is also hiring a recycling coordinator (applications closed July 5) as the first step to rolling out a new program.

For the new opt-in program, residents will be asked to provide their names, phone numbers, email addresses, home addresses, and pinpoint the location of the address through the online form’s map. The city will notify those who have opted in through email or by phone when recycling services will start. 

The city’s announcement on Friday, July 23 offers guidelines for the upcoming program, including how to properly set out carts for collection. Recycling carts should be placed for pickup no earlier than noon the day before pickup and be removed no later than noon the day after pickup. The metal bar on the cart should be facing the street. No recyclable materials outside of the cart will not be accepted.  

The announcement also lists what will be recycled, including cans, cartons, glass, paper, boxes, plastic bottles, and jugs.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and top officials instructed city residents to continue separating their waste and recycling into the black and blue bins, to keep people breaking their habits. Cleveland City Council members in the past pressed the city to provide recycling alternatives and updates its website. As of the city’s announcement Friday, the website has been updated.

According to the Recycle Cleveland website, there will also be two drop off locations available, at the corner of East 55th Street and Euclid Avenue (24-hour access) and at 3727 Ridge Road (Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

Click here to learn more about recycling in Cleveland, and click here to learn more about recycling in Cuyahoga County

This story was produced as part of an environmental justice reporting initiative involving partners Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative (NEO SoJo), which FreshWater Cleveland is a part of, Ideastream Public MediaThe LandThe NewsLab at Kent State UniversityWKSU, and La Mega.

Lee Chilcote is editor of The Land. Chris Abreu is a journalism major at Kent State University and intern with The Land.

Lee Chilcote
Lee Chilcote

About the Author: Lee Chilcote

Lee Chilcote is founder and editor of The Land. He is the author of the poetry chapbooks The Shape of Home and How to Live in Ruins. His writing has been published by Vanity Fair, Next City, Belt and many literary journals as well as in The Cleveland Neighborhood Guidebook, The Cleveland Anthology and A Race Anthology: Dispatches and Artifacts from a Segregated City. He is a founder and former executive director of Literary Cleveland. He lives in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland with his family.