Release Date: May 11,2020
City of Akron to Standardize Curbside Charges to Sustain Recycling Program
Due to projected City-wide revenue shortfalls, City proposes eliminating the separate rate for recycling customers, starting June 1
Akron, Ohio, May 11, 2020—Today, the City of Akron introduced legislation to standardize the residential rate for curbside pickup, whether or not customers use a recycling bin in addition to their normal curbside trash bin. Until now, customers who utilized a recycling cart were charged a lower rate. The recycling discount saved customers between $2.00 and $2.50 per month (depending on Homestead eligibility), and cost the City of Akron over $1.2 million per year, which is almost half of the City’s total costs associated with the recycling program. The choice to eliminate the recycling credit is being made in order to sustain the recycling program under significant budgetary constraints.
There is a common misconception that the City of Akron profits off recycling. In reality, due to changes in the international market for recyclable materials, for many years, the City has heavily subsidized the recycling program—both through the credit to customers, and through the costs to pick up and process recycling at the Waste Management facility.
Mayor Horrigan has taken every responsible step to save money on the recycling program. In June 2019, the City of Akron partnered with local sustainability organizations Keep Akron Beautiful and Summit ReWorks to launch a three-month, grant-funded “Recycle Right” campaign designed to reduce the high contamination rate in Akron’s recycling stream. Since this cart-tagging campaign, the quality of Akron’s recyclables has meaningfully improved. The City of Akron's contamination rate has gone from 39% to 27.2%, which represents a 30% overall reduction in contamination. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden, unforeseen decrease in Citywide revenue, the City is being faced with difficult decisions on how to balance the budget and keep workers employed.
“When the City launched the curbside recycling program, recyclable materials brought in revenue, so it made sense to pass those savings on to our customers,” Director of Public Service Chris Ludle said. “But circumstances have changed drastically, and in order to sustain the recycling program, we must make changes that work for customers, the environment, and the City budget. It will take our entire community coming together to do their part to support this recycling program.”
Under the new rate structure, which would go into effect June 1, 2020, residents will continue to receive a discount if they qualify for Homestead. Customers who do not currently have a recycling cart will see no change in their bill.
“I am committed to creating a recycling program that is reliable and sustainable,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “Akron has always continued to process recyclables responsibly, and maintain open communications with the public about our program, despite significant challenges in the market for recycled material. The success of the Recycle Right campaign confirms what we already knew: our residents want to recycle correctly; they just need to be empowered with information. We look forward to continuing to work with our customers regarding how to recycle properly, for the benefit of our environment, economy, and community.”
The legislation is being presented to City Council today. “I want to thank the members of Akron City Council for their ongoing support of our recycling program and for their partnership to stabilize the City’s finances,” Mayor Horrigan continued. “I am confident that we can work together to continue to prioritize the safety, wellbeing, and stability of Akron families and provide high quality services in all our neighborhoods.”
Current recycling guidelines for what should be placed in recycling carts are available at www.akronohio.gov/recycling. Customers who no longer wish to recycle can contact the Mayor’s Action Center at 3-1-1 or (330) 375-2311 and ask to return their recycling cart and be removed from the program.