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Recycling for Apartments and Condos in Cuyahoga

Doreen Schreiber

Author’s Note: Originally posted in 2017, this story was updated on April 29, 2020. The City of Cleveland’s curbside and drop-off recycling programs are under review. Some privately operated drop-off options still exist but are no longer available at the city’s Ridge Road Transfer Station.

Curbside recycling for single-family homes is in place for virtually every community in Cuyahoga County. Some cities also offer drop-off recycling at their service departments for residents. There is a large gap, however, in recycling options for apartment and condominium dwellers. I know this because almost every day I get emails and phone calls from apartment dwellers frustrated because they do not have access to recycling in their buildings.

A Cuyahoga Countywide Housing Study for May 2016 done by the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission shows approximately 35 percent of all households consist of apartments, two and three-family rental units, and condominiums. Cities consider these commercial buildings and generally do not provide recycling services to them. However, some property managers and owners have put recycling in place due to tenant demands and their own understanding of conserving resources and reducing waste.

So what are the majority of multi-family housing residents to do if they wish to recycle? Here are the current options:

  • Take their recyclables to their city drop-offs if available. On our website, go to “Recycling in Your Community” on the right side of the page to see if your city has a drop-off.
  • If there is no city drop-off for you, free mixed recycling drop-off is available through the City of Cleveland Ridge Road Transfer Station at 3727 Ridge Road. Their phone number is (216) 664-3162.
  • For paper and some cardboard, multi-family housing dwellers as well as the rest of the public have free drop-off access to River Valley and Paper Retriever Bins located at nearby churches, synagogues, community centers, and other nonprofits.
  • Some of the fire stations have an Aluminum Cans for Burned Children Program.

Still, these options may be inconvenient to those who are homebound or have limited access to transportation and a large amount of material to recycle.

Here are some tips for tenants to get recycling started in their apartment or condominium:

  • Get one or more of your fellow tenants together and speak with the apartment manager or owner about starting a recycling program. You may have to do this several times before they will agree to look into it. Be persistent.
  • To get their attention, let the manager or owner know they can possibly save money by implementing recycling and reducing waste. Let them know it’s a great marketing tool for attracting new tenants.

Once they agree to look into it that is where we can help. Sometimes the owner or manager hesitates because they don’t know where to start. Have them contact Cuyahoga County’s Business Recycling Specialist at (216) 443-3732 to find out what their options are for recycling in the county. Their recycling options will vary with the footprint of the property and we can quickly assess their options and create a customized step-by-step program for them to follow to implement a successful recycling program.

It took one tenant two years to get her property manager to talk to me about recycling. Now this building has a recycling program in place. The property manager is thrilled because she is saving thousands of dollars on waste hauling fees and the residents are happy they have a recycling program!

Talk to your fellow tenants and get a team together to talk to the property manager. There is strength in numbers. Be that squeaky wheel!