CLEVELAND — The City of Cleveland announced on Oct. 21 it's extending the opt-in deadline for the cities new curbside recycling program to Nov. 5.
The city said it made the announcement due to increasing demand for the program, after a large increase in opt-in requests over the past two weeks, almost doubling the amount. The city told News it now has more than 17,700 requests for the program, moving back the previous opt-in deadline of Oct. 22.
The city hasn’t accepted recycled materials since April 2020, when its recycling contract expired and the city couldn’t get a bid it would accept due to rising contract prices, in part generated by improper recycling practices by residents.
But the current number of requests only equals about 18% of the 150,000 households that were in the program before it shut down in the spring, and the nearly 18,000 residents who have opted-in thus far, is far less than the 30,000 to 35,000 the city told News 5 it thought it would receive back in back in July for the first 90-days of the opt-in program.
Debbie Smith, who started a Tremont neighborhood recycling program last year called Clean Garbage Recycling, told News 5 homeowner trust in Cleveland's recycling program is one reason why more residents haven't signed up for the launch of the new city program.
“I was surprised, I expected more people would sign-up," Smith said. “There’s some hesitation by residents of Cleveland after we found out that our recyclables were not being recycled but taken to a landfill“
“Homeowner recycling education is really is everything, not only just getting the word out to get people to sign-up, but also to recycle properly.”
Ward 5 Cleveland Councilwoman Delores Gray told News 5 recycling education is crucial in the success of Cleveland's new recycling program. Gray acknowledged Ward 5 has one of the lowest resident recycling participation rates in the city, and in response, she's calling for a series of recycling seminars to be held in community centers across the city.
“There should be a program about trash, about waste," Gray said. "There should be a program so people could understand why it has to be separated.”
“We have Burten, Bell, Carr, we have Midtown, we have Slavic Village, so we have a lot of different community centers where we can have a class."
The City of Cleveland told News 5 in July it decided to get residents to opt-in before it had a recycling contract hoping that fewer households participating will lower the cost in obtaining a new contract and "create a universe of customers who want to be in the program and will do it in the correct way."
But Ward 12 Councilman Tony Brancatelli told News 5 the opt-in program is causing confusion among residents, and he believes the program should have been set up for all residents from the start.
“I was not a fan of the opt-in program," Brancatelli said. “So there’s going to be confusion as we go through this process."
"I'm just trying to figure out how do we reach out to more residents and get more residents engaged. Folks don’t know what they’re opting in for because we don’t have a vendor yet, so we don’t even know what we can put those containers just yet until we have a vendor saying this is what we’re willing to take.”
Residents interested in joining the program must sign up by Nov. 5 by calling 216-664-3030 or by signing up through the opt-in form.
For more information on the City of Cleveland’s waste collection and recycling programs, visit the Division of Waste Collection and Disposal’s website: www.clevelandohio.gov/waste.