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Akron, Ohio

City of Akron Launches Recycle Right Campaign

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City, Keep Akron Beautiful and ReWorks, funded by a national grant, partner to increase resident education and reduce recycling contamination

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Ellen Lander Nischt, Press Secretary
Published: 05-16-2019

Akron, Ohio, May 16, 2019 – The City of Akron will partner with local sustainability organizations Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB) and ReWorks to institute a grant-funded Recycle Right campaign from June through August, 2019 designed to reduce contamination in Akron’s recycling stream. Recycling contamination, meaning incorrect or soiled materials placed into the recycling system, increases costs, decreases recovery of recyclable materials and is a source of growing concern for industry professionals.

The Ohio EPA has elevated this issue by committing grant funds to communities across Ohio, working in conjunction with The Recycling Partnership, to implement strategies to reduce recycling contamination. The Recycling Partnership is a national nonprofit that works hand-in-hand with communities and companies to improve recycling for the environment, the economy, and families, providing grants and technical support to local governments to enhance their recycling programs. 

Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB) has been selected on behalf of the City of Akron to receive a $66,000 grant to work with The Recycling Partnership to implement these various strategies. The Recycling Partnership will provide an additional $150,000 in staff and resource support for the program, and ReWorks will supply $20,000 in matching funds for project management.

“Although we have a modern, well-developed solid waste management system that includes recycling collection and infrastructure, we are not immune from the challenges of the current recycling quality issues the country is facing. Not only is recycling contamination costly, but a single contaminated truckload can cause delays and shutdowns of our recycling process, damage the sorting equipment or even injure workers” said Mayor Horrigan. “Recycling contamination is a real problem for our City, so we, along with community partners, are taking active steps to correct this issue so we can sustain, and hopefully enhance our recycling program.”

The Recycle Right campaign, officially beginning June 3rd, will address both informational and education efforts, along with field activities that include mobilizing personnel to conduct cart observations, placing informational tags on carts if contaminants are observed, and providing direct curbside feedback to residents to improve recycling cart contents. To support further awareness of the program, KAB will also send targeted informational mailers to participating residents, then conduct field activities to audit and educate them on proper recycling protocol.

“The Recycling Partnership’s program model works—and has worked for Keep America Beautiful affiliate cities, including Atlanta, which saw a 57% decrease in contamination and a 27% increase in overall capture of quality recyclables when they did a pilot program in 2017, Jacqui Flaherty-Ricchiuti, CEO of KAB said.  “We know that Akron residents want to recycle and recycle correctly. By educating Akon residents at the cart with easy-to-understand what and what not to recycle tags, we are driving positive behavior change to help the City of Akron capture more quality recyclables. These quality recyclables are then put back into the recycling system stream, creating a healthier economy, a less wasteful planet and stronger communities.”

“Placing items into curbside recycling carts with the hopes that it will be recycled, is called ‘wishcycling,’ and it is harmful to the success of recycling,” said Marcie Kress, ReWorks executive director.  “Residents positively impact recycling by only placing the following items into recycling carts: plastic bottles and jugs, cartons, metal beverage and food cans, paper and cardboard.”  Items should be clean, empty and not bagged. 

The goal of Akron’s Recycle Right campaign is to improve the quality of recyclables collected by 25 to 35 percent. If the program proves to be successful, the City plans to continue with the program after the initial run is complete to continue to educate residents.

The City will be hosting a media event before the June 3rd program launch to formally announce the beginning of the Recycle Right campaign and inform residents of what to expect. 

For more information on this program, please visit www.akronohio.gov.

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For further information, contact:
Ellen Lander Nischt
Press Secretary
Phone: (330) 375-2325
E-mail: [email protected]

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