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There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to residential recycling programs. What can go in? What can‘t? Who’s taking our recycling? What are we accomplishing: Are we saving money, the planet?

Reduce Reuse Refocus: A Recycling Guide for Northeast Ohio

We heard it from you time and again.

"Why can't I find one place where I can get what I need to know about recycling in my city, my village, my township?"

We looked. We couldn't find one either.

As part of our series, Reduce Reuse Refocus, we decided to build one for you.

Once we started building it, we realized why it hadn't been done before.  It wasn't easy. You see, every place is just a little bit different. Some communities offer curbside pickup; others do not. Some take glass, others do not. Some accept plastics 1-7, others take just #1 and #2, and some don't take any at all. Some manage their recycling on the local level. For others, their county or solid waste management district is in charge.

Dark blue areas in the interactive map represent what Ohio defines as corporations, meaning cities or villages.  Light blue areas are townships.

If you're having trouble seeing the recycling guide with your browser or mobile device, click here to launch it in a new window.

We decided to bring it all together in one spot online, but that took some real teamwork. We started in the Fall of 2019 with a group of data volunteers, all working together to track down the information. They checked websites and followed up with phone calls. With the beginning of 2020, we added several interns from the newsroom in helping to find the data we needed. At the same time, the newsroom had been researching and experimenting with data visualization tools to determine the best one to connect with you. Once we did, there was the final challenge of making it work.

All that being said, we recognize that this guide will need fine-tuning over time. Recycling programs are ever-changing. Some communities are pairing back or eliminating their programs. Others are starting new ones. We are committed to updating this information on a regular basis. If you come across information in the guide that needs to be adjusted, please email us with details.

Thanks to the team
We want to individually thank everyone who helped make this guide possible.

Our data collection team:

WKSU volunteers:

  • Kurt Weitendorf
  • Lorna Jordan
  • Tim and Jane Smith
  • Jill Barbuto

WKSU interns:

  • Abigail Bottar
  • Aaron McDade
  • David Williams

When it came to figuring out the best online tool for this online recycling guide, we thank Sue Zake a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University for all the hours she spent at the table with us, playing around with the data and various visualization programs. 

WKSU owes a huge debt of gratitude to Kent State University's Division of Institutional Advancement and the data team who took this project over the finish line. 

And finally, a big thanks to everyone who wrote in with your questions about recycling. You made this all possible.
Editor's note:  This story has been updated to correct grammatical errors.

Andrew Meyer is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.