Cuyahoga County dealing with recycling crisis

(Cleveland) - Local leaders claim curbside recycling in Cuyahoga County is in trouble and say they need help of consumers to help costs down.  

Diane Bickett, executive director of the Cuyahoga County Sold Waste district says recycling markets are shrinking because of China’s decision to reduce imports. 

Bickett tells Newsradio WTAM 1100, China no longer wants to be the global end-market for the world’s recyclables because for decades they had been accepting recyclables contaminated with trash and hazardous waste. This has left them with a spoiled environment they are now working to clean up. 

She contends, huge contamination rates and China’s restriction of imports, have created a perfect storm for recycling here in Cuyahoga County. 

Local recycling processors report that more and more recycling is contaminated with garbage, up to 25 percent garbage. 

Contamination happens when residents put unacceptable or non-recyclable items into their recycling cart, bin or bag. 

Bickett says everyone’s help is needed to do a better job of recycling correctly to keep recycling viable. 

Bickett urges residents to put these five items ONLY in curbside recycling:

• Food and beverage CANS - empty and rinse.

• Milk, juice and broth CARTONS - empty, rinse and replace cap.

• GLASS BOTTLES AND JARS - empty, rinse and replace cap.

• PAPER AND BOXES - include all paper, mail, magazines, newspaper cereal boxes and flattened cardboard. Do not include shredded paper. 

• PLASTIC BOTTLES AND JUGS - empty, rinse and replace cap. Disregard the numbers on plastic. Recycle bottles and jugs only.  Other plastics are not recyclable at this time. 

She also wants consumers to remember the following... 

•        Place items loose, not bagged, in your recycle cart or bin.

•        Recyclables should be free from food residue and empty.

•        Boxes should be empty, broken down and dry.

•        Putting the wrong items in your recycling will do more harm than good.

Learn more about recycling correctly at

(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM & Getty Images)

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