Curbside Recycling – It’s Back to the Basics
by Connie Wysocki
Curbside recycling rules for all of Cuyahoga County have recently changed. Local companies that accept recyclables for processing report that there is significantly more contamination with “garbage.” In this case, “garbage” is defined as unacceptable or non-recyclable items in the recycle bags or bins. When this happens, the entire truckload of recyclables may have to be rejected and the truckload is then taken to a local landfill. This defeats the whole purpose for recycling. The main culprit here is plastic material that is no longer acceptable for recycling.
So what are the changes involved in recycling plastics? First of all, forget about the “little number in a triangle” on the bottom of plastic containers – it is no longer relevant. However, do pay attention to the shape of the container. Plastic bottles and jugs are currently the only type of plastic material that is acceptable for curbside recycling. A good rule-of-thumb guide to remember is that the top of the container must be smaller (or narrower) than the bottom of the container.
The following plastic items are no longer acceptable for recycling:
· Containers, such as yogurt, butter, cottage cheese, etc.
· Plastic bags or netted produce bags
· Plastic disposable cups or glasses
· Berry or produce containers
· Flower pots or hanging baskets
· Plastic “blister” or “bubble” packaging
· Styrofoam packaging, cups, or food containers
· Plastic plates, utensils, or hangers
· Cat litter containers and 5-gallon buckets
· Empty motor oil and antifreeze jugs
The following plastic bottle and jug items are acceptable for recycling:
· Water and pop (soda) bottles
· Shampoo bottles
· Milk, water and juice jugs
· Laundry detergent jugs
· Bleach bottles
Bottles and jugs should be emptied and rinsed, and the cap replaced.
Current rules for the curbside recycling program in Strongsville:
· CANS – all food and beverage cans; empty and rinse
· CARTONS – 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 only – empty and rinse
If you shred various documents at home, the shredded paper may be recycled (but not in the curbside recycling program). First and foremost, the shredded paper must be bagged. It can then be recycled by taking it to any of the large green River Valley paper recycling bins located in Strongsville. The bins are located in the parking lot of the Strongsville Emergency Food Bank (behind the Communications and Technology Building, 13213 Pearl Rd. and near the library), at the Strongsville Municipal Building (16099 Foltz Pkwy.), at the fire stations, and at Surrarer Park
The City of Strongsville website () gives the following information regarding the curbside recycling program:
“Combine cans, cartons, glass, paper, flattened boxes, and plastic bottles and jugs in blue recycling bags and place them at the curb on your regular trash collection day. Blue bags can be purchased at many stores where trash bags are sold. Or you may use blue grocery store bags.
Recycling contamination, which happens when well-intentioned recyclers mistakenly put the wrong items into their recycling, is a problem nation-wide and can wreak havoc on the recycling process in Cuyahoga County and around the world.”
If you are interested in learning about organizations that are willing to accept donations of all sorts of usable items, the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District has produced an excellent resource booklet. It is called “Pass It On” and is a “resource-full guide to donating usable stuff.” To request a free copy, contact them at or call 216-443-3749. This is also an excellent website to learn more about recycling and/or proper disposal of many items that are not a part of the curbside recycling program.
Recycling matters – but please recycle properly!