CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I-TEAM has uncovered new evidence showing how long your recycling in the City of Cleveland has ended up dumped with regular trash in a landfill. What’s happening became a crisis hidden from taxpayers until the I-TEAM started exposing it earlier this summer. Now we can show you when the city’s recycling program first broke down.
City sanitation crews continued picking up curbside recycling this week, just like they have before. This continued even though city officials admit and documents show that most, if not all, of the city's recycling, ends up in the landfill.
"We're spending millions of dollars allegedly on a recycling program that's not happening," Councilman Mike Polensek told the FOX 8 I-TEAM.
In June the FOX 8 I-TEAM revealed that city records show up to 95% of your recycling in Cleveland gets thrown in with the trash; this being done by city sanitation crews.
Now, through a public records request, the I-TEAM has obtained documents showing that since June 2018 very little recycling from the city has been recycled.
"Let's figure out how we fix this thing," Polensek said. "It's critical. We are spending millions of dollars allegedly on a recycling program that isn't happening."
City officials said that most of the recycling is contaminated. A sanitation supervisor told the I-TEAM if a load of recycling has any garbage mixed with it when it comes in from the street, it goes to the trash.
"I just can't believe that 90% of the recycling from Cleveland is contaminated. That just doesn't make sense," said Angelo Lisak, who owns Mel's Cafe in Tremont. "We work hard to recycle and for what?"
Mayor Frank Jackson previously told the I-TEAM that the program is not working. He says they are looking at hiring a consultant to study the problem and make changes to improve it.
Cleveland city officials told the I-TEAM Friday night they expect to have a consultant hired to study the recycling problem in October.
Meantime, several residents, including Lisak, say they want answers.
"I keep calling and asking," Lisak said. "No one calls back. No one cares."