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Local sustainability group pushes for 'circular' economy, fill void without citywide recycling program in Cleveland

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Posted at 8:47 AM, Apr 22, 2022

CLEVELAND — As many people celebrate Earth Day, Cleveland volunteers are working to keep our communities and environmentally sustainable. The group called Circular Cleveland says they want to help transform Cleveland as the city has yet to reinstate its city-wide recycling program.

The group launched last year with help from a by way of a $475,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Their goal is to transition Cleveland into a "circular" economy by reducing waste and pollution.

“We're all very familiar with the phrase reduce, reuse, recycle, but in the past, I think we've put too much emphasis on recycling,” said Cathi Lehn, Sustainable Cleveland Manager. “We need to rethink our purchases to ask ourselves do we really need this product or material or there something that we already have that we can use.”

Ron Shelton is a local artist helping spread awareness. He's one of nine Circular Cleveland ambassadors with his own mission limit plastic waste.

“I say my life has been changed forever. It will never go back to what it was because when you get that knowledge it's unavoidable,” he said.

Like Shelton, Mark Tapajna at the Ben Franklin Community Garden team was awarded a grant from Circular Cleveland to achieve sustainability.

“I think it’s really important that we work together,” Tapajna said.

As Circular Cleveland moves forward, the group is working with international consultants to create a roadmap to help with a sustainable transition and implementation in Cleveland. It is expected to be released in May.

RELATED: 3 bids under consideration to restart Cleveland’s recycling program