Become a recycling ambassador!

I recently earned the title “Recycling Ambassador” by completing an 8-hour program with the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District (CCSWD). Before you think this is an exclusive title, please know that you too can be a Recycling Ambassador!

What does this mean and how does one go about earning this title? A Recycling Ambassador is a resident of Cuyahoga County who has a passion for ensuring as much waste is kept out of the landfill as possible and knowing how to dispose of different kinds of waste properly. The program was taught by an employee of the CCSWD for four, two-hour sessions over four weeks on Zoom. The course is offered 3-4 times a year, with the next session starting Wednesday, March 3.

During each session, participants learned about proper disposal of everything from food to aluminum foil to bleach. We learned about the current recycling guidelines, why they change frequently, and how we can be a resource to our communities. The goal is to keep as much out of the landfill as possible, and we reviewed many options for many different items. 

While I’m sure you are all hoping I will teach you everything I learned, I don’t think the paper would appreciate me attempting to type it all up (ha ha!) so I’m going to go over some key points, most of which I have covered in my columns over the years.

  • When you have something specific that you don’t want anymore, first go to the CCSWD website,, and enter the name into the “What Do I Do With” search. Please note that this search tool works better with general terms, for example, if you have a chair, put in “furniture,” etc.
  • When you are putting items into your recycling at home, please remember “when in doubt, throw it out.” “Wishful recycling” is more harmful to the recycling process than putting it into trash bound for the landfill. Recycling contamination is the No. 1 threat to recycling as the wrong items can ruin a whole load, causing the whole thing to go to landfill. 
  • Scrap metal recycling: This is a resource I have not yet used, and learned a lot about in the class. For example, you can collect any used, clean aluminum foil at your home and then take to a scrap metal yard. The only metal that can be recycled curbside are aluminum and steel cans. All other items such as car parts, license plates, wire hangers, hot water tanks, etc. can be taken to a local scrap yard. There are a couple on the west side of Cleveland; for a complete list check here: In Bay Village you can also drop off scrap metal at the service department during the Household Hazardous Waste collections.
  • Household Hazardous Waste: Save your hazardous waste for these collections, held biannually in Westlake and monthly in Bay Village. This includes oil-based paint, solvents, used motor oil, automotive fluids, lawn and garden products, pool chemicals and household cleaners. If you have any of these that you need to dispose of, please do not put them in your regular trash or recycling. They must be brought to your city collection for proper disposal. At these collections, items such as electronics and other equipment may also be collected. In Bay Village, the last Friday of every month (except November) the items may be brought to the service department at 31300 Naigle Road. In Westlake, you can drop off hazardous waste May 10-15 and September 13-18 at the city service center at 741 Bassett Road. 

If you are also interested in becoming a Recycling Ambassador, I urge you to sign up on the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District website and take the course. You will become a resource to your community and help keep as much out of landfills as possible. Each of us is able to make a difference!

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 11:06 AM, 02.16.2021