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Environment & Energy

Cleveland hires Rumpke to process curbside recycling

Plastic cardboard aluminum glass products sorted for recycling
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Rumpke will recycle glass, cardboard, aluminum, paper and some plastics.

Curbside recycling in Cleveland will resume with Rumpke Waste and Recycling handling the job, the city announced Friday, with the aim of a June start date.

Residents who opted into the city’s recycling program will be able to recycle plastic bottles, jugs, tubs, and disposable plastic cups as well as glass bottles and jars, aluminum cups and cans and paper products.

“On Earth Day, we are proud to announce a fresh start for recycling in the City of Cleveland with a trusted local vendor as our partner,” Mayor Justin Bibb said in a press release. “Residents across the city have let me know that recycling is important to them, and we are ready to get started.”

Rumpke will transport materials from Cleveland’s transfer station to the Medina County Recycling Center for sorting, then onto processing plants in Columbus and Dayton.

The city ceased its recycling program in April 2020 when Cleveland’s contract ended and then-Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration determined a new bid to haul recycling was too costly. The mayor faced strong criticism from council members who learned from media reports that material residents sorted and placed curbside for recycling was going into landfills.

The new recycling program requires residents to opt in. In January, the Bibb administration told Ideastream Public Media some 27,000 Cleveland households have signed up for the program. According to the city’s website, sign up for curbside recycling closed in November, but an online form allows residents to leave their contact information to be notified when registration reopens this spring.

The city has struggled to find a new contractor and has repeatedly announced new estimated start dates.

In the meantime, Cleveland’s recycling coordinator Ren Brumfield has been working to educate residents about what can and can’t be recycled in order to reduce the city’s high contamination rate. A 2021 study found 62% of materials collected for recycling in Cleveland were not acceptable.

Residents who opt into the new program must sign a pledge to follow recycling guidelines.

According to the city’s press release, Rumpke collects more than one billion pounds of material each year and all of its recyclables end in domestic use.