Bay Village has highest recycling rate in the county

Recycling and trash containers line a Bay Village street, ready for pick up. Photo by Denny Wendell

Every year, the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District publishes a report to show how recycling efforts by community are adding up. In the just-released report for 2015, Bay Village was at the top of the list for the first time, with a 73.57 percent total recycling rate. This was up from 68.2 percent in 2014. 

The Solid Waste District compiles its figures every year using data reported from each city on the tonnage collected through the community's waste collection, curbside recycling, and yard waste collection programs. The recycling rate signifies the percentage of waste that a city diverts from the landfill by recycling and composting.

This is great news, and shows that Bay Village is doing a fantastic job keeping waste out of the landfill! Westlake readers, please take note: Westlake’s total recycling rate was 35.81 percent in 2015, down slightly from the previous year's 36.27 percent. I challenge you to improve your number! I would love for Westlake to beat Bay Village someday. Bay Villagers, keep up the great work!

So why is the recycling rate important? Recycling conserves natural resources and also supports local recycling-based businesses. Recycling keeps waste out of the landfill which in turn helps to reduce harmful chemicals and greenhouses gases from being released into the environment. For example, when a plastic bottle is thrown into the trash and ends up in the landfill, as it sits in the landfill for hundreds of years, it will release harmful chemicals into the air. If it’s recycled, that does not happen. 

What is recycling? Recycling involves reusing used materials that are labeled as recyclable for a new purpose. A recyclable product is turned back into raw form that is used to create different products. Glass can be recycled endlessly without any loss in purity or quality. For example, the glass pickle jar you placed in the recycle bin may have been recycled over 100 times already and you’d never know!

Aluminum cans are the most sustainable beverage package and are infinitely recyclable. The average can contains 70 percent recycled metal. On average, a recycled aluminum can becomes a new can in less than 60 days. Nearly three-quarters of all aluminum produced in the U.S. is still in use today! Glass and aluminum are very eco-friendly: manufacturers use 30 percent less energy when they switch to reclaimed glass and 95 percent less when using recycled aluminum, all without sacrificing any quality. When possible, choose glass and cans!

Recycling your corrugated cardboard (i.e. shipping boxes), paperboard (i.e. cereal boxes), and paper is also very important. Over 90 percent of all shipments in the United States are shipped in cardboard boxes. When you add in shipments made all over the world, that’s a lot of cardboard to manufacture! Cardboard is made from tree pulp, and we all know how important trees are to the environment, so cutting down trees to make cardboard is a lot less desirable than recycling cardboard already out there.  Paper fibers from cardboard are strong and can be reused about six times, reducing the need to cut down more trees. Furthermore, when you put clean white printer paper in the recycling bin, this paper will be downcycled to make newspapers or paper towels, which will eventually become waste. However, the good news is that paper can be composted easily, making an eco-friendly end for paper products.

Recyclable plastics are “downcycled,” meaning they are turned into lower grade plastic than they were originally. For example, a plastic water bottle can be turned into fibers for carpeting, but that carpeting can never be turned back into a water bottle. Plastic never biodegrades, and the polymers in plastic can only be used a few times before they’re too degraded for further use. Downcycled plastic products require extra treatment, rendering them not recyclable again. Limiting single-use plastic and reusing plastic as much as possible is one way to help reduce what is an environmental menace to the earth. 

As you go about your routine and choose products to purchase, please try to keep in mind the mantra we all know “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” These words are not in that order accidentally, they are in order of importance. First, we need to Reduce our waste. Second, when we produce waste, we should try to Reuse it somehow. If that is not possible, Recycling is the last resort. Thank you for your recycling efforts! Keep up the good work!

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Volume 8, Issue 14, Posted 9:51 AM, 07.19.2016