New $30M recycling plant comes to Cleveland area, offering more capacity, technology
The machinery in the new 100,000 square foot recycling plant is hard at work, sorting, crushing and compacting hundreds of tons of recycled materials.
It's the first plant of its kind in the state, touting new pilot technology as a way to sort out cling wrap and plastic bags from single-stream recycling.
WM, formerly known as Waste Management, unveiled the $30 million recycling plant in Northeast Ohio on Friday, touting new technology that can process up to 420 tons of recycled materials per day.
Recycling reduces what ends up in landfills, but this plant has goals beyond that: to create what WM Great Lakes Area Vice President Aaron Johnson calls the state’s circular economy.
"We sort those materials, we go out and collect them, we bring them here to sort them, we bale them, then we sell those commodities back to manufacturers to make new goods," Johnson said.
Johnson says the new technology, which adds to employees sorting recycling by hand, means more capacity.
The plant is part of a larger $1 billion investment by WM in recycling infrastructure across the country.
WM selected the site near Cleveland because of manufacturing opportunities and the city’s history of lower-than-average participation rate in recycling.
Cleveland's recycling program sputtered out in 2020, at which point contamination rates climbed above 60%, before a new, opt-in program started back up in June 2022. Now, Cleveland's contamination rate is about 15%. Currently, more than 70,000 of the city's 150,000 households have opted in to participate.
Presently, Cleveland contracts with Rumpke Waste & Recycling, the state's largest recycler, to process the recycling collected from the city's curbs. Johnson said WM has its sights set on working with Cleveland in the future.