Cleveland residents still have time to sign up for new recycling program

A person holds a cardboard box full of recyclable items including water bottles and plastic jugs.
About 15,000 Cleveland residents have signed up for the new recycling program so far. [lovelyday12 / Shutterstock]

Clevelanders have until Friday to opt into the city’s revamped recycling program.

About 15,000 people have signed up so far, according to Cleveland Chief of Sustainability Jason Wood. Residents will still be able to opt in after the deadline, Wood said Tuesday on Ideastream Public Media’s the “Sound of Ideas,” but recycling service for these late sign-ups will be delayed.

“If you opt in after Friday, it’s not like we’re going to turn the opt-in form off. That Friday deadline is really the day to get included in the first batch,” Wood said. “We’ll continue to collect the opt ins and then do some rerouting in early 2022.”

The new program comes after Cleveland’s previous contract became too costly to continue due to the changing recyclables market and high contamination rates. The city then halted recycling, transporting materials to a landfill. Now, efforts are underway to put a new contract in place and bring people into the program voluntarily.

The city has received bids for a contractor to take in the recycling, Wood said. Those bids are being reviewed, he said, and the program is still on track to start up before the end of the year.

Some residents have criticized the city for a lack of communication and outreach. But the city has used social media and ad campaigns, Wood said. Every eligible resident was sent a mailer, he said, and the city also placed calls to seniors after finding a low response rate among those residents.

“We’ve seen some results from that. We had some ideas of what we thought would be a good number based on what we heard from GT Environmental, who is our consultant who kind of helped us develop this new waste management strategy, of where we thought we’d be with this first iteration,” Wood said.

Current enrollment numbers are in a good place ahead of the start of recycling, Wood said.

“The goal has always been to make sure the folks we get into this first batch of the program are good quality recyclers who we can do some education and some communication with to make sure we’re building a program that’s successful,” Wood said. “Then we can bring it to scale over time.”

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