2011 Residential Recycling Report

The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District released its 2011 Residential Recycling Report, revealing the degree of participation in recycling programs by residents of the county’s 59 communities. The City of Cleveland Heights, which has encouraged its residents to observe sustainable practices with a renewed vigor since the unveiling of its 2011 Strategic Development Plan, claimed a top-ten spot on the list.

Disposing of 18,676 tons of solid waste but saving 27,988 tons from landfills, the city was able to report a total of 59.98 percent materials recycled. This amount is a slight improvement over the 53.16 percent recycled in 2010.

“We used to have a recycling goal of 50 percent for Cleveland Heights, but we found we’ve been surpassing that amount,” said Bonnie Caplan, Cleveland Heights city council member. “I put out more recycling than I do regular trash, and I’m not even a fanatic about it.”

Shifting perspectives from environmental benefits to economic ones, recycling makes sense (and cents) when considering the city pays a fee for every ton of waste it sends to the landfill, but gets paid for every ton of materials it recycles.

University Heights fell short of recycling goals in 2011. Contributing 5,078 tons of waste and recycling 1,210 tons, the city reported a total of 19.25 percent materials recycled—a decrease from 2010's 30.07 percent.

Jeff Pokorny, University Heights service director, hypothesizes that the diminished amount could be attributed to a change in the collection of yard waste operations. Beginning May 1, 2011, UH residents who wanted their yard waste collected for composting had to adhere to stricter guidelines. For example, unwanted yard debris must be placed in a brown kraft bag for compost; a plastic bag for landfill. In addition, materials such as brush and wood must be on the tree lawn, bundled in a manageable size, for collection on the regular garbage pick-up day.

Pokorny noted that the total combined amount of waste (around 6,000 tons) was in the same ballpark as last year, which is a positive aspect. Pokorny said that now the city must “renew its efforts to get the word out about recycling,” to motivate the involvement of residents in shifting the ratio of waste to recyclables to the level that the city has previously achieved.

The information in the county's report was provided by each municipality and included materials collected through curbside and drop-off programs, plus organic waste diverted from landfills through composting, brush chipping and other methods.

Pepper Pike achieved the highest recycling rate, 70.98 percent. Not surprisingly, cities with higher percentages of residents who own their own homes and have earned a bachelor's degree or higher, and with low poverty rates, achieved a higher rate of recycling. For example, 98.3 percent of Pepper Pike residents are homeowners and 69.7 percent have earned a bachelor's degree or higher. The poverty rate is 3.7 percent. East Cleveland, which achieved a recycling rate of only 1.64 percent, has a poverty rate of 37.4 percent, a homeownership rate of 35.1 percent. The percentage of its residents who have achieved bachelor's degrees is 10.6 percent.

To view the 2011 recycling report, go to http://media.heightsobserver.org/media/docs_1342558074.pdf.

How can residents become motivated to participate? “Residents may be more inclined to participate if they realize each small effort can add up to create significant results,” said Caplan.

Heights rundown on recycling procedures

Both University Heights and Cleveland Heights accept the following items, placed in a blue or clear bag, with regular rubbish collection:

  • Glass bottles and jars in all colors
  • Metal cans/lids (tin, aluminum, etc., such as those used for food and beverages)
  • Plastic containers #1–7, including bottles and containers, yogurt cups, microwaveable dinner trays, and clear food packaging
  • No styrofoam, grocery store bags or dry cleaning bags

University Heights accepts the following, with regular rubbish collection, placed in a blue or clear bag:

  • Newspapers

University Heights accepts the following at the Service Department at 2300 Warrensville Center Road:

  • All aforementioned items that are collected on garbage day
  • Mixed paper and cardboard
  • Computers and accessories
  • Tires
  • Car batteries, nickel cadmium (rechargeable batteries), lithium and lead acid batteries

Cleveland Heights accepts the following with regular rubbish collection:

  • Used motor oil
  • Car batteries
  • Paper products and cardboard, which must be placed in boxes, paper bags, or tied in a bundle and kept separate from blue bag recyclables
  • Computers and accessories

Cleveland Heights accepts the following dropped off at City Hall (40 Severance Circle) or the CH Community Center (1 Monticello Blvd. at Mayfield Road):

  • Technotrash (CDs, cell phones, digital cameras, etc.)
  • Ink Cartridges

Kerrie Bercher

Kerrie Bercher, CSU student and FutureHeights intern, is interested in environmental planning and urban studies.

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Volume 5, Issue 8, Posted 11:40 AM, 08.10.2012