The program started two years after the I-Team found all recycling going to a landfill.
So, we met up with the city’s recycling coordinator, Ren Brumfield, at a trash transfer station where crews bring what they collect.
“We’re doing very well,” Brumfield said.
He said, for the most part, people follow the rules for what to put in recycling containers, but he showed us that many people try too hard.
Brumfield calls that “wish-cycling.”
“Wish-cycling is when people put things into recycling, kind of, in hopes that somebody at the back end will either sort it out or recycle it at the end,” he said.
The I-Team also took a close look at a typical load coming in from the streets.
It included what should be recycled and some stuff that should not, such as paper towels.
“A lot of people say, ‘Oh, paper, that’s good,’ but paper towel is not going to be made into anything else,” Brumfield said.
Back in 2020, the I-Team revealed all recycling collected by city crews in Cleveland was getting dumped in a landfill.
As far back as 2019, the I-Team uncovered city hall memos showing almost all recycling collected in Cleveland was considered contaminated. So many people put regular trash in recycling bins.
By the time crews collected those bins, most of the bottles and cans and plastic were nearly impossible to separate from the other garbage.
New Mayor Justin Bibb started the new program in June.
You may still see crews dump trash and recycling together in the same truck. Crews now only collect recycling separately from people who sign up.
Residents have stickers on their containers to show they’re taking part. Some people have complained the city has been slow to send out stickers, but Brumfield says the city is catching up.
“The ideal thing is to follow the list,” he said.
“Mainly with plastic. If it’s a bag, then we don’t want it in there. And, that’s because it will not be processed.’
On the west side, David and Rainie Napier do all they can to do the right thing.
“I’m glad they got it going again because, like, I hated throwing something that I knew could be recycled in the trash,” David Napier said. “I think, right now, the people that are doing it are paying attention to what they’re doing.”
“If you’re not doing the right thing, that kind of defeats the purpose,” Rainie Napier added.
While the city led a campaign earlier to get people to sign up for the new program, anyone can still register to join.