Community Meeting Wednesday to Talk Trash

247,090. That’s how many tons of solid waste were processed in the City of Cleveland in 2012. That is a lot of trash.  Of that amount, 12,621 tons were recycled, either through the City’s curbside recycling pick up program or drop-off centers.

We can do better. Currently, we send too much trash to the landfill at a very high cost, both in terms of dollars and greenhouse gas emissions. The City of Cleveland is developing a plan to do better because the status quo is not sustainable – financially, environmentally or socially.

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On Wednesday, June 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Estabrook Recreation Center on Fulton Road, the City will present a brief update on its search for sustainable solutions for waste management and take questions regarding the status of the project.

We seek a sustainable, cost effective and long-term solid waste management solution. The solution will include recycling and keeping organic waste out of the landfill. There is potential for energy generation – whether through anaerobic digestion or the creation of refuse derived fuel (RDF) pellets for use or sale and gasification.  The City would like your feedback on our options.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Chief of Staff Ken Silliman will summarize a report received from Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc. (GBB), a consultant hired to review 45 responses to an initial Request for Information & Qualifications issued in 2011 and a Supplemental Request for Information & Qualifications issued in 2012. This report and its related presentation contain three primary recommendations for moving forward towards a more sustainable solution for trash in Cleveland:

  • RDF production, after mixed waste processing to recover recyclables and compostable materials;
  • RDF production with energy production (gasification); and,
  • RDF production and anaerobic digestion with or without energy production (gasification)

This community meeting is the first to be held this year as the City of Cleveland kicks off a summer-long effort to seek feedback from the Cleveland community on these options. Additional meetings will be held during July, August and September.  We anticipate finalizing our options this fall and issuing a Request for Proposals in October.

Immediately following the City’s meeting on Wednesday, the Ohio EPA will host a public hearing regarding a draft air permit for a gasification facility on the site of the Ridge Road Transfer Station. This facility was originally proposed to OEPA in 2011 as part of an effort to better manage the City’s trash and increase Cleveland Public Power’s alternative energy portfolio. The application was amended based on significant due diligence and public input in 2012.

This process with OEPA was happening while the City continued its research and GBB conducted its analysis and during a time in which the energy market changed dramatically. Given these factors, gasification, while one of the proposed solutions, is no longer the top option.

The Ohio EPA’s public hearing will focus solely on the gasification technology listed in the draft air permit. OEPA officials at the public hearing will not be able to answer questions regarding the City’s ongoing search for sustainable solutions for solid waste, the GBB report, the City’s previous consultants or contracts related to energy generation or the City’s efforts to increase recycling, composting or other waste management techniques. Read more about the OEPA public hearing here.