No Updates on Cleveland's Lapsed Recycling Program, But Report Expected Next Month

click to enlarge Clevelanders dropped off bags of recycling at City Hall to express anger at the lapsing of the curbside recycling program, (5/4/20). - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
Sam Allard / Scene
Clevelanders dropped off bags of recycling at City Hall to express anger at the lapsing of the curbside recycling program, (5/4/20).

The Frank Jackson administration provided scant information on the city's lapsed recycling program Monday, updating an anxious Cleveland City Council about the work of an environmental consulting firm which has been tasked with assessing the city's waste collection and disposal operations from top to bottom.

A draft report of that assessment, which will include analysis and recommendations for the curbside recycling program as well as other topics, is expected to be completed by the end of December.

The city's Chief Operations Officer, Darnell Brown, told council that the administration will then review recommendations and prioritize them by the end of January. In response to a question from Council President Kevin Kelley, Brown estimated that residents might begin to see changes in waste collection operations by the middle of next year, but said he was only speculating.

The presentation Monday did not include concrete information or recommendations about the recycling program. Council and residents have been hoping for answers ever since it was revealed earlier this year that due to global markets and the city's high rate of contamination, the city had suspended its curbside recycling program. When its most recent contract expired, the city issued two RFPs for a new contractor to handle recycling services but received only one, exorbitantly priced, bid. All Clevelanders' recyclable material has been disposed in a landfill, alongside garbage, for months.

Whether or not the City will resume its curbside recycling, and what form a new program might take, will presumably be outlined in next month's report.

Brown said that the consultant had been hard at work on "due diligence": gathering data, collecting resident feedback and going on ride-alongs with route supervisors to assess routes, garbage bin set-out rates, mileage, vehicle maintenance, staffing levels and more. Brown said it had been 20 years since the city of Cleveland modified its waste-collection routes.

Brown reiterated that the Jackson administration believed it was "good environmental policy" to have a city recycling program, but that the aim of the consultant's work was to "right size" recycling in the context of a larger waste collection framework to ensure that it remains efficient and feasible. 

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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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