Cleveland’s much-anticipated return to recycling has been delayed; now expected by end of March

By Paul Ploumis

CLEVELAND, Ohio – During the waning months of Frank Jackson’s last term as Cleveland mayor, he tried to revive the city’s moribund recycling program.

Then-Chief of Sustainability Jason Wood said he expected service to return by the middle of December for residents who signed up for a voluntary, opt-in program that would require participants to abide by certain rules.

But just before the new year - and the start of Justin Bibb’s term as mayor - the city sent an email message to residents that said not to expect a recycling program to be in place until sometime in the first quarter of this year.

The city had selected a vendor to provide the recycling services last year, according to the email, “However, due to our city’s history of excessive contamination, including yard waste in recycling carts, the City and the vendor were unable to agree upon contract details.”

 The city will now have to re-solict bids for the contract, according to the email.
 More than 27,000 households have signed up for the opt-in program. By operating such a program, the city intends to include only those people who are serious about recycling and willing to follow strict rules so that the recycling stream does not get contaminated.
 Serious contamination is why the city had to abandon its recycling program in 2020 after a vendor contract expired and subsequent attempts to rebid for services failed.
 That’s when the city came up with the idea to have an opt-in program that could then grow in size, but with regulations in place to better ensure success.
 Bibb intends to follow through with efforts to revive recycling.
 The competitive bid has been revised and “should be sent out soon,” Sarah Johnson, spokeswoman for Bibb, stated in an email last week. “The timeline will depend on bid responses and getting a contract executed.”

Blaine Griffin, the new president of City Council, said he could not offer much insight to what’s happening with the proposed recycling program, but that it has the support of council.

“That’s going to be one of the first items of business that we’re going to be focused on,” he said.