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Best and worst cities for recycling a deeper dive into the numbers

Marc Lefkowitz  |  06/11/12 @ 2:00pm  |  Posted in Recycle

Cuyahoga County's annual report card on recycling can tell us only so much – who are the best and worst recyclers. So we sliced the data, to look at how much is being recycled on a per capita basis versus thrown in the landfill. Some discoveries include – Strongsville and Cleveland produce the same waste per capita.

At 30%, Cuyahoga's residents are the best recyclers in Ohio. The state we're in has mostly rural counties that are too sparsely populated to build recycling programs. Being the leader in Ohio actually holds us back from setting higher goals and getting the support from the state to pursue them. Should diverse Cuyahoga emulate national leaders like King County (Seattle) Washington – a state with an urban-rural split – in setting aggressive recycling targets? Here's a look Cuyahoga's recycling by the numbers:

Biggest producers of solid waste

  1. Cleveland (168,707.4 tons)
  2. Parma (39,349)
  3. Strongsville (19,019.9)
  4. Cleveland Heights (18,676.6)
  5. Euclid (17,555.7)
  6. Lakewood (16,368.6)
  7. Westlake (15,319)
  8. Garfield Heights (13,158.5)
  9. Brook Park (10,930.2)
  10. North Olmsted (10,792)

Most waste per capita (comparing county's top ten waste producers)

  1. Brook Park (10,930.2 tons / 19,212 residents =.569 tons or 1,138 lbs/person)
  2. Parma (39,349 / 81,601 =.482 tons or 964 pounds per person)
  3. Westlake (15,319 / 32,729 = .468 or 936 lbs/person)
  4. Garfield Heights (13,158.5 / 28,849 =.456 or 912 lbs/person)
  5. ~Strongsville (19,019.9 / 44,750 =.425 tons or 850 pounds per person)
  6. ~Cleveland (168,707.4 tons / 396,815 residents =.425 tons or 850 pounds per person)
  7. Cleveland Heights (18,676.6 / 46,121 =.405 tons or 810 pounds per person)
  8. Euclid (17,555.7 / 48,920 =.359 or 718 lbs per person)
  9. North Olmsted (10,792 / 32,718 =.330 660 lbs/person)
  10. Lakewood (16,368.6 / 52,131 =.314 or 628 lbs/person)

Top ten recycling rates/ Top recyclers in Cuyahoga County by percentage

  1. Pepper Pike (70.98%)
  2. Woodmere (68.6%)
  3. Solon (63.95%)
  4. Walton Hills (61.4%
  5. Independence (61.27%)
  6. Cleveland Heights (59.98%)
  7. Beachwood (59.64%)
  8. Shaker Heights (57.47%)
  9. Glenwillow (57.43%)
  10. Bay Village (56.84%)

Recycling tons per capita (population divided by recycling rate)

  1. Pepper Pike 5,736 tons / 5,979 residents = .959 tons per resident
  2. Walton Hills 1,497 / 2,281 = .656
  3. Cleveland Heights 27,988 / 46,121 = .607
  4. Solon 13,897 / 23,348 = .595
  5. Independence 4,051 / 7,133 = .567
  6. Bay Village 8,595 / 15,651 = .549
  7. Shaker Heights 13,717 / 28,448 = .482
  8. Woodmere 382 / 884 = .432
  9. Beachwood 5,153 / 11,953 = .431
  10. Glenwillow 329 / 950 =.346

Per capita income / college education (Bachelor's degrees) of the top ten recyclers

  1. Pepper Pike $71,255 / 71.82% have a Bachelor's degree or higher
  2. Woodmere $22,703 / 30.69%
  3. Solon $35,394 / 50.44%
  4. Walton Hills $26,405 / 19.49%
  5. Independence $26,447 / 29%
  6. Cleveland Heights $25,804 / 50%
  7. Beachwood $40,509 / 50.86%
  8. Shaker Heights $41,354 / 61.69%
  9. Glenwillow $19,942 / 16.9%
  10. Bay Village $35,318 / 54%

What does slicing the data this way tell us about Cuyahoga County's recycling efforts? It's hard to say without looking at how each community conducts its recycling (curbside in bags, with bins supplied, etc.). But as we ponder how to improve, these questions come to mind:

Why did only 11 out of 50 cities in the county recycle more than 50% of their waste? Not having a municipal-wide recycling program may explain why Cleveland has slipped below double digits in recycling percentage (7.82). How many other cities with low rates have no municipal recycling program?

Is it more impressive when a community with less educational attainment and lower household income reaches the top ten? Do the top ten recyclers in Cuyahoga County share a value - believing that recycling is an important part of helping reduce waste that ends up in the landfill? Is that more of an indicator of recycling success?

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