Cleveland, Ohio has finally reintroduced curbside recycling after two years.


After a contract with a recycling facility ended, the city had issues finding another contractor to do the job. Cleveland’s reputation for highly contaminated recycled objects deterred facilities from applying.

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Cleveland residents have waited more than two years for curbside recycling service to return, and city leaders hope the strategy in place this time working with Ohio-based Rumpke Waste & Recycling will boost quality participation and slash contamination.

After the city’s contract with Kimble Recycling & Disposal ran out in spring of 2020, recyclables were landfilled and the city struggled to attract good bidders for a new contract, which was attributed to a history of high contamination. The city’s journey to restoring curbside recycling service has been longer than expected as it’s sorted out the best model and repeated the bidding process. The city decided last year to pursue an opt-in model, and added a recycling coordinator to its staff for the first time: Ren Brumfield, who previously worked in waste management for large health systems in Cleveland.

One of Brumfield’s top tasks was negotiating that elusive recycling contract, which was announced on Earth Day: a five-year agreement with Rumpke. The program begins Monday. The city is hoping that some key changes will make this iteration of curbside recycling more of a success, including greater transparency and grassroots engagement with residents, as well as regular contamination audits.

Preview text: Maria Rachal, June 13, 2022, WasteDive.

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