By Nicole Hennessy
Each year for the next three years, a third of Lakewood’s residents will be provided automated recycling carts, the first of which will be distributed on Oct. 14 to more than 60 streets or 6,000 households.
Whereas other Westshore cities outsource their trash collection, Lakewood remains in charge of its refuse and recycling, to which the department’s unit manager, Chris Perry, attributes the city’s landfill diversion rate.
In 2012, 51.15 percent of Lakewood’s total solid waste was recycled, diverting 16,145 tons of recyclable materials from landfills.
By comparison, Bay Village recycled 68.13 percent of its solid waste, Fairview Park recycled 41.67 percent and North Olmsted, 51.94 percent.
But some of the other Westshore cities didn’t recycle quite as much, with Olmsted Falls at 20.54 percent, Olmsted Township at 15.69 percent, Rocky River at 35.86 percent and Westlake at 37.37 percent.
While Lakewood strives to continue increasing its percentage of recycled waste, the current collection method of blue bags placed beside the automated trash bins will not provide the increase, Perry explained.
As part of its “Green Refuse and Recycling Initiative,” Lakewood does have a mandatory recycling ordinance, and those who don’t participate could be fined.
“With these containers, we believe there’s no excuse not to recycle,” said Glen Bleich, manager of the refuse and recycling division.
The initial investment for automated recycling in Lakewood is $1.4 million, the projected return on which, Perry said, is about five years.
Since 2009, when the city automated its trash pickup as part of its Green Initiative, up to and including 2012, the total cost savings was $4,764,731. And a 58.5 percent per year reduction of particulate matter pollution emissions was reported.
Chosen for the first phase of the new recycling program were a mix of streets, including those with high volumes of traffic, such as West Clifton Boulevard and quieter residential streets such as Andrews and Brockley.
“There’s a lot of other green projects the city’s undergoing right now,” Perry added, mentioning a stormwater mitigation project that will be implemented within the next few years.
“So, it’s kind of this whole green umbrella that we’re part of.”
Moving forward on trash recycling, the challenge Lakewood faces is its high density, with duplex residents having enough space for the extra containers.
While City Council voted down a parking ban during trash and recycling pickup hours, residents are encouraged to place their carts in the street, near the curb, and contact the refuse department with concerns or any difficulties they may experience.
“The bigger picture,” Perry said, will be to include larger apartment complexes in the program, as only apartments with four units or less will be included during the initial three phases.
“We’d love to be able to collect for them,” Bleich added. “A lot of the tenants do come up here and bring their recycling.”
For drop-off hours and a list of acceptable recyclables, the refuse and recycling department can be reached at 216-252-4322 or http://www.onelakewood.com/PublicWorks/Refuse_Recycling/.