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Earth Day: Recycling benefits beyond the environment

6:01 PM, Apr 20, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- The days of washing, peeling of labels, seperating and hauling it to the recycle center are long gone.

Residents of Cuyahoga County's 59 communities recycled nearly as much as they threw away in 2010.

1.3 million tons of trash was sent to the landfill, 1.1 million tons was recycled.

For each ton of material recycled, the county gets paid about $40.

However, the economic benefit now goes beyond that. Diane Bickett, with the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District, says that there is now an industry that has popped up because of recycling.

There are more than 100 businesses in the county whose business it is to recycle.

"Those are local jobs that wouldn't have been created if that stuff was going to the landfill," Bickett said. "We didn't have that 20 years ago."

Recycling also wasn't this easy 20 years ago.

In Cuyahoga County, you can put all of your materials in one container. They can accept more types of plastics, rinsing containers is now minimal and label removal is no longer needed.

The process though isn't that easy in all communities. In Portage County, residents are still required to do a minimal amount of sorting. Right now, the county operates the largest public materials recovery facility in the state.

It's a "dual stream" facility but Bill Steiner, the director of the Portage County Solid Waste District, says they are hoping to make the process more efficient by going to a "single stream" process by the first quarter of 2013.

"We are looking at converting to a single stream at the curb, but then, have a private company do the processing for us. The cost to convert to a single stream is just not within our budget."

The change over will mean some job-loss but Steiner says they hope to save as many jobs as possible by expanding pick-up routes in the county.

According to Steiner, Portage County actually recycled more than they put in the landfill. According to his numbers, in 2010 131,648 tons of trash was put in the landfill, 189,891 tons of material was recycled.

Stephanie Corbett is the Director of Sustainability at Case Western Reserve University. She says one of the most common misconceptions about recycling is that it's not actually processed. Some people believe it goes to the landfill.

The money communities receive for the materials recycled can prove it's happening. Also to meet the needs of communities and increase capacity two new privately owned materials recovery facilities are being built.

One is in Twinsburg, the other is in Akron.

WKYC-TV

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