City Recycling Changes: “Don’t Bag It!”

Cleveland has an extremely easy recycling process called “single stream” which means residents can put all accepted recyclables in one container while some communities have to sort recyclables into different containers. In areas that have received access to the automated curbside recycling collection program, residents have a blue recycling cart to place their recyclables in that will be collected once a week with their refuse. Residents who do not have access to the curbside recycling program are able to take their recyclable materials to any City of Cleveland recycling dumpster.

Our goal is to make the most of our recycling efforts. However, the facility that processes our recyclables – the material recovery facility or MRF – informed us that we should not promote the use of plastic bags to contain recyclables. This is a change in the recycling industry that improves their sorting and processing of recyclable materials.  According to the MRF, plastic bags contribute to high contamination rates and sorting machine failures. Therefore, residents should no longer bag their recyclables.  Rather, residents should place them loose in the blue recycling carts and drop-off dumpsters

Watch this video to better understand the process at the MRF and why plastic bags pose this challenge:

To continue the ease of recycling, try placing recyclables in a paper bag, a cardboard box or a smaller plastic bin inside your home and use that to carry it to your larger blue cart or to the recycling dumpster.

The following items are examples of what should be placed in your blue recycling carts and drop-off dumpsters.  Please note, any type of plastic bags will not be accepted in the blue recycling carts and at drop-off dumpsters.

  • Pop bottles (caps must be screwed on tightly, or taken off and thrown away)
  • Waxed cartons (milk/juice)
  • Milk jugs
  • Glass containers from juices, sauces, etc.
  • Metal, tin and aluminum cans
  • Plastics bearing numbers 1-7 with recycling symbol on bottom of product
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Junk paper mail
  • Newspaper & magazines
  • Cereal, oatmeal, and other cardboard boxes
  • Cardboard egg cartons
  • Tissue boxes/cardboard rolls from paper towels and bath tissue

To read the Division of Waste’s updated Residential Collection Service Guide, please click here. The Service Guide gives a more detailed overview of what the City of Cleveland accepts for recycling. If you have questions about recycling, please contact the Division of Waste at (216) 664-3711.

About Daniel Williams

City of Cleveland, Ohio, Director of Media Relations

7 thoughts on “City Recycling Changes: “Don’t Bag It!”

  1. This is ridiculous as single items when wind blows hits the streets when dumped by the trucks. I have always smashed milk jugs and put like 5 in a blue bag. They are both plastic, so what is the big deal. Makes things harder to run to the trash with every single thing used because we don’t like a counter full of empty things. Recycling is a failure also when you have these bums going through peoples containers on the street before the truck arrives and takes all the aluminum from peoples trash.

  2. Can’t the recycling centers’ staff simply empty the plastic bags themselves. This makes no sense. I go to the recycling drop off at Haleron Park twice weekly. What the heck am I supposed to put the items in.

  3. you’re not really committed to zero waste. How do you propose one gets their recycling into the cumbersome containers? One handful at a time? what happens if I continue to use bags?

  4. Reblogged this on CPP’s Virtual Corner and commented:
    As Cleveland Public Power begins to promote our “Go Green” campaign this month it is only fitting that we share this post from the City of Cleveland’s Division of Waste on changes to the recycling program. Please take note and share with friends and family.

  5. You can put your recyclables in a paper bag, a cardboard box or a smaller plastic bin inside your home and use that to carry it to your larger blue cart or to the recycling dumpster. There are many options other than plastic bags. Here is an image of someone who uses 2 plastic bins in their kitchen that are small enough to use to take recyclables to the blue cart:×387-500×333.jpg

  6. yeah, get a small bin for recyclables in ur home…right… i say i will do this when notified by the city of my councilwoman. and lets get ALL to recycle,,, apartment complexes and ALL b usinesses, why are they exempt from recycling?

    • ALSO WHEN THE TRASH TRUCK IS DONE the recycle truck picks up any trash bags left on lawn along with the recyclables….. (excuse me its TRASH..not recyclables)…why?…why are they doing this? you need men to pick up whats trash along side the black cans so this trash is NOT put in w/the blue cans… make sense?

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