Release Date: June 1,2021

City of Akron and Partners Launch Another Round of the Recycle Right Campaign to Further Improve Curbside Recycling

The “Feet on the Street” Cart-Tagging Campaign is part of The Recycling Partnership’s $49,100 Grant to Improve Recycling in Akron

Akron, Ohio, June 1, 2021 — The City of Akron is pleased to announce that it will be relaunching the successful Recycle Right campaign—a communitywide initiative to improve the quality of recycling in curbside carts by providing residents personalized and real-time curbside recycling education and feedback.  This campaign is once again being performed in partnership with Keep Akron Beautiful, ReWorks, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and The Recycling Partnership.

The initiative—running Monday, June 7th through the end of August—will again include mobilizing specially-trained personnel to conduct curbside cart observations.  Residents who have contaminants (non-recyclables) in their recycling carts will receive informational “Oops” tags on their carts with direct feedback designed to improve recycling cart contents (example available here).  Recycling carts found to contain contaminants such as trash and other non-recyclable items will not be emptied.  Instead, residents will be given the opportunity to correct the mistake and return the cart to the curb the following week. 

“Recycling is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “Recycling properly not only saves taxpayer money by reducing the cost of dumping at the landfill, but gives our residents the ability to participate directly in combatting climate change. We know our residents want to recycle the right way—and this campaign is helping us create a more sustainable and effective recycling program.”

Before the City began the Recycle Right campaign in 2019, the contamination rate of Akron's recyclables was 39.3%, which is high. This rate cost the City $205,031 in contamination costs. After the first two rounds of the Recycle Right campaign, the rate dropped down to 26.3% which brought the contamination cost down to $38,038 in 2020. The most recent audit confirmed the continuing success of this program showing that the City’s contamination rate for recycling is now at 21.6% meaning the City has nearly cut the contamination rate in half during the course of this campaign. This year, Akron hopes to further improve the contamination rate with a goal of 15% or less.

"The Recycle Right Campaign is intended to increase the amount of quality recyclables in our recycling stream," said Keep Akron Beautiful CEO Jacqui Ricchiuti. "The high quality recyclables we want to see are paper, cardboard, cartons, metal food and beverage cans, and plastic bottles and jugs. All recyclables should be clean, empty, and not bagged. Some of the most common trash items which are mistakenly put into recycling carts include plastic bags, contaminated laundry detergent containers, and dirty or wet cardboard, including pizza boxes. The cleaner our recycling stream, the more sustainable the program will be.  This is why we are hoping to get that contamination rate down even further with this next round of the campaign."

Developed by national nonprofit The Recycling Partnership, this program helps communities achieve economically efficient recycling programs, reduces the number of new resources used in packaging, and improves the health of communities. “The ‘Feet on the Street’ program works by giving residents instant feedback on what is and is not recyclable,” said Jill Martin, Director of Community Programs at The Recycling Partnership. “Through this personalized and real-time feedback loop, we are helping Akron capture more quality recyclables that are then transformed into new materials, creating a more circular economy, a less wasteful planet, and stronger, healthier communities.”

“The City of Akron’s commitment to the Recycle Right Campaign demonstrates the benefits of providing ongoing communication to residents on what should be placed into recycling carts,” states Marcie Kress, Executive Director of ReWorks, the solid waste management authority for Summit County.

To help take any guesswork out of what can or cannot be recycled, the City of Akron offers the free Akron Recycles app. The app allows residents to search any item and find out if it belongs in the trash bin, the recycling bin, or on the curb as a bulk item. The app also provides customized alerts and reminders regarding curbside pickup. It is available to download for free on Apple or Android devices. The need to improve the quality of recyclables is a high priority for communities across the nation, including Akron, considering today’s national recycling market conditions and the desire to continue a sustainable recycling program. For more information about Akron’s recycling program, please visit www.akronohio.gov/recycling.

About The Recycling Partnership

The Recycling Partnership is the action agent transforming the U.S. residential recycling system for good. Our team operates at every level of the recycling value chain and works on the ground with thousands of communities to transform underperforming recycling programs and tackle circular economy challenges. As the leading organization in the country that engages the full recycling supply chain, from working with companies to make their packaging more circular and help them meet climate and sustainability goals, to working with government to develop policy solutions to address the systemic needs of the U.S. recycling system, The Recycling Partnership positively impacts recycling at every step in the process. Since 2014, the nonprofit change agent diverted 375 million pounds of new recyclables from landfills, saved 968 million gallons of water, avoided more than 420,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and drove significant reductions in targeted contamination rates. Learn more at recyclingpartnership.org.