Cuyahoga County asks residents to go ‘back to basics’ when recycling

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Cuyahoga County is looking to get residents “back to the basics” when it comes to household recycling.

With China continuing to reduce its purchases of American recyclables, Cristie Snyder, a programs and marketing communications representative with the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District, said it is important for households to recycle properly.

“China is buying less and other countries have put a lot of restrictions on importing our recycled items,” Snyder said. “If people put the wrong items into the recycling bin, it causes contamination and can cause a lot of trouble for those sorting out the recyclables.”

When the wrong items are included among items that should be recycled, it slows the sorting process and can lead to many items not being recycled as they should.

“We need to get back to the basics when we recycle,” Snyder said. “We really want people to recycle the right way by putting the correct items in the recycle bin.”

Snyder said the CCSWD is advising county residents to recycle only a core of five items.

• Cans: Cans should be emptied and rinsed before being placed into the recycle bin.

• Cartons: Cartons should also be emptied and rinsed. It is asked that all caps be replaced to the cartons, as caps are too small to recycle on their own. Plastic “clamshell” containers, such as those used to package blueberries or baked goods, cannot be recycled.

• Glass bottles and jars: Again, empty and rinse. See more about glass bottles and jars here.

• Paper and boxes: To save space, flatten cardboard items, such as cereal boxes and Amazon boxes. See more about paper and boxes here.

• Plastic bottles and jugs: Empty and rinse, then replace the cap. “If it has a neck or opening smaller than its body,” Snyder said of plastic bottles and jugs, “then it belongs in your recycling bin.” See more about plastic bottles and jugs here.

These core items should be placed loose -- not bagged -- into recycling bins or carts. All items should be clean, empty and dry.

“I get asked a lot about peanut butter jars,” Snyder said. Noting that peanut butter containers are not easy to thoroughly clean, Snyder said, “Take a spatula and scoop out as much as you can and then rinse.”

Some cans come with lids that are peeled off. Snyder said residents should attempt to remove the lid to the point where the contents can be removed, but keep the lid still slightly attached. If this can’t be done, than the lid should be rinsed and put into the empty can before being placed into the recycle bin.