CLEVELAND — Earth Day started in 1970 as a way to bring attention to environmental concerns.
One of the biggest concerns in Northeast Ohio is recycling, but Republic Services is finding new and creative ways for kids to help the planet while also getting their parents involved.
The recycling company handles waste and recycling collection for dozens of communities across northeast Ohio.
This week, the city of Lakewood along with the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District sent out flyers reminding residents how to recycle correctly.
Local recycling services are seeing too many of the wrong items pop up in bins, including batteries, scrap metal, electronics, garden hoses, yard waste and more.
"They, on average, get a bowling ball a day," said Carin Miller, an education specialist with the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District.
They’re also having to throw out recycled items that are dirty.
“Empty, clean and dry is our big push,” said Lisa Beursken, who coordinated Cleveland’s recycling program for Republic Services. “That's like a spaghetti sauce, jars, peanut butter, mayonnaise, those are big contaminated. They leave the food in them instead of rinsing them out.”
The pandemic has led to many people spending more time at home than normal, which results in more trash and recycling. One of the more frequent items found are plastic bags, which most grocery stores and other retailers will take back.
“They slow the process down; they end up tangling in the equipment. They have to shut down equipment, usually about once an hour, to cut those bags out,” Miller said.
That’s why Republic Services, the nation’s second-largest recycler, partnered with the educational app Mizzen by Mott to teach students from grades kindergarten through high school good recycling habits.
“There's videos that show a virtual tour of the recycling centers and landfills. There's books that they show as well to bring that home, that education home as well, and then activities,” Beursken said.
While it may take an extra minute to sort or clean, officials say recycling does help save energy and resources.
“Melting down an aluminum can once you put it in a recycling bin, it turns around and becomes a new can on the shelf with a new beverage in it in 60 days,” Miller said.
You can download the free “Mizzen by Mott” app through the Apple or Google Play store. Republic Services’s recycling lessons will be on the app later this month.
In Cleveland, the city suspended its recycling program nearly a year ago because they couldn’t get a reasonable contract for service, primarily because residents were putting more in those bins than just recyclable material.
Right now, a consultant who was hired in February is still working to fix the program so the city can get a contract to recycle full time again.
In the meantime, Cleveland is now picking up recycled materials every other week and only for residents who opt into its program.
Click here to see how to properly recycle or dispose of everyday items.
For more information on the Mizzen by Mott app and how to download it, click here.
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