Cleveland’s recycling fine now enforced: What you should and shouldn’t recycle

CLEVELAND – City of Cleveland recycling pick-up crews go to 6,000 households a day, and roughly 30,000 every week. Many of those households put out both a trash bin and recycling bin. Yet, according to the city, 65% of the recyclables picked up in Cleveland don’t get recycled at all—they end up in a landfill.

“We’re not doing very well. We are experiencing about a 65 % contamination rate, that’s a big number for contamination,” says Cleveland Director of Public Works, Michael Cox.

Cox says recycling carts put curbside are constantly stuffed with things they shouldn’t be -- things that can’t be recycled.

On August 1 the city instituted a $100 fine for any recycling and waste violations.

“My goal is to not give out any citations, my goal is to have everybody set out their waste and their recyclables correctly,” Cox said.

In the first two weeks of the new enforcement, crews handed out 370 citations. The top violation is for improper set out, like items placed on the ground or in bags nearby the trash and recycling carts.

“When you set boxes and bags outside of the carts that means that we have to stop that one-armed truck from picking up the cart and get somebody out there,” Cox explained.

Recycling crews that Fox 8 followed during their route said they try to be lenient and help people understand the rules. Even one greasy pizza box in a recycling bin can not only contaminate that whole bin, but the entire truck load.

“We try to tell the kids, if we send them out to recycle, we make sure its plastic or glass we try to stick to what they say and hopefully we’ll never get a fine,” said Stephen Williams of Cleveland.

Ideally, if more people understand how to recycle, they will do it more often. Right now there is a 27% participation rate in the city.

Things people often put into their recycling bin that they shouldn’t include plastic grocery bags, dirty pizza boxes, jars filled with grease and Styrofoam.

A complete list of items that can be recycled here.

Continuing coverage here.