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.