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Waste Reduction Success Stories - Large Public Venues

More and more businesses are implementing cost saving, environmentally friendly recycling, composting and waste reduction programs. Here are a few large public venues in Cuyahoga County and around the country, who are leading the way.
  • Cleveland Clinc Foundation
  • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
  • Continental Airlines
  • Progressive Field

Cleveland Clinic Foundation

A landmark presence in the Cleveland region, Cleveland Clinic does not allow its size to exclusively define its environmental footprint. Instead, Cleveland Clinic incorporates sustainability practices across all levels so to create a healthy environment for healthy communities. The Office for a Healthy Environment (OHE) helps champion many of these projects, but their impact on a 40,000-employee hospital system would be impossible without institutional commitments.

Here is a sample of the practices employed by Cleveland Clinic to create healthy environments for healthy communities:

  • Cleveland Clinic began a comprehensive, commingled recycling system in February 2008. The main campus service center processes 35 to 60 tons of recyclable material a month from the landfill. While Cleveland Clinic must still pay a tip fee to recycle, the Clinic does not pay actual landfill costs, saving $1,100 to $1,900 a month.
  • The comprehensive recycling program achieved a 30 percent recycling rate in 2010. Cleveland Clinic hopes to improve and divert 50 percent of waste through an expanded clinical plastics recycling program and single stream mixed paper collection. The plastics program will allow nursing staff to recycle 63 tons of polypropylene wrap used by Cleveland Clinic each year to protect sterile instruments between surgical cases. The new paper program collects both confidential and non-confidential materials in the same secured bins. The paper is then shredded and recycled.  Collecting and shredding all paper together has allowed Cleveland Clinic to better protect the personal information of its patients, as well as enhance the performance of its recycling program by eliminating the need to sort paper.
  • During the summer months, Cleveland Clinic operates a popular on-campus community farmer’s market in partnership with North Union Farmer’s Market Association. Nearly 2,000 visitors attend the weekly market. Cleveland Clinic’s food service provider, AVI, helps close the loop on leftover food waste.  AVI purchases all leftover produce from the farmers and then incorporates the local produce into its cafeterias the following day. AVI launched a composting program in the main cafeteria at Cleveland Clinic and is collecting more than 1,000 pounds of food waste each week.
  • Cleveland Clinic’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) division is tasked with procuring all materials for the health system. To reduce waste at the point of sale Cleveland Clinic has environmentally preferred purchasing policy.  This policy emphasizes  “…waste and packaging reduction, fuel economy, reduction of persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs), hazardous waste handling, energy efficiency, and, air quality…” when vetting contracts. This policy significantly reduced the amount of mercury, latex, PVC, and ethylene oxide used system-wide.  Additionally, Cleveland Clinic hosts an internal, electronic swap-site where departments can list surplus office supplies and furniture for re-distribution within the health system.
  • Cleveland Clinic continuously innovates new medical practices and equipment that help put patients first. While outdated, replaced medical equipment is still operational and Cleveland Clinic saves these materials from the landfill. Medical equipment is sent to MedWish International, a Cleveland based non-profit that distributes usable medical supplies to the developing world.  In 2010, Cleveland Clinic Health System donated 144,000 pounds of medical supplies to MedWish.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo made some major green by recycling.  In 2008, the zoo generated $12,860 by recycling more than 140 tons of materials ranging from cell phones to phonebooks.  Recycled materials included cardboard, paper, aluminum cans and all other metals, plastics numbered 1 and 2 and #4 shrink wrap, fluorescent bulbs, electronic waste, including toner cartridges, batteries, tires, and of course, animal wastes.

In 2008, the zoo also started using a solar-powered golf cart to carry materials and instituted a policy to greatly reduce vehicle traffic inside the zoo.

The zoo encourages visitors to recycle select materials at the Zoo, including paper, inkjet and toner cartridges, cell phones and the small, screw-in compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) that can be used to replace traditional incandescent bulbs.  It is important to recycle these CFLs properly because they contain mercury and cannot be thrown out in the regular trash.

Working with the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District, from June through September each year, phonebooks can also be recycled at the zoo, in special “phone book recycling” containers.

Each year, the public has the opportunity to order ZooPoo Compost -- made from recycled animal manure and bedding materials - in March and April for pick up in May. To learn more about the zoo's recycling program, visit or call (216) 661-6500.

Continental Airlines

In 2009, Continental collected more than 4 million pounds of mixed recyclables from terminal operations at its hubs at Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport, New York/Newark Liberty, and Cleveland Hopkins — an 800 percent year-over-year increase. Mixed recyclables include newspapers, cans, and plastic bottles contributed by co-workers and customers via designated “EcoSkies” recycling bins in hub airport terminals.

In 2010, as a result of the company’s expanded focus on recycling, Continental received the American Forest & Paper Association Business Leadership Recycling Award. Due to Continental’s focus on increasing recycling efforts, in 2009 alone Continental:
■ Recycled enough aluminum to build 20 Boeing 777 airplanes.
■ Saved more than 584,300 trees.
■ Saved enough water to meet the monthly freshwater needs of 106,900 homes.
■ Saved enough energy to heat and cool more than 49,600 homes.
■ Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 35,208 metric tons.
■ Reduced its carbon footprint in landfills by saving 116,900 cubic yards of waste.

“While Continental has had a robust recycling program for more than a decade, we made substantial enhancements to the program throughout 2008 and 2009, increasing recycling on board our aircraft, at our airport terminals, and at other supporting facilities, like our food service kitchens,” says Leah Raney, Continental’s managing director of global environmental affairs. “We have had strong encouragement and support from our co-workers and customers, and we are excited to see such great results from our expanded recycling program.”

Continental also works with contract caterers at the non-hub airports it serves to encourage recycling. Today, more than 91 percent of Continental’s domestic catering partners and more than 87 percent of its international caterers recycle.  Proceeds from Continental’s recycling program are reinvested in the program or donated to We Care, a nonprofit charity organization that provides financial assistance to Continental employees in need. In June, 2010, Continental began exploring food waste composting options as well.  Congratulations to Continental for making good, green businesses decisions!

Progressive Field

In 2008, Progressive Field launched an aggressive waste reduction and recycling effort, resulting in 120 fewer garbage pulls and a total reduction in waste from 1261 tons in 2007 to 923 in 2008.  In addition, as of September, 2008, the Indians had recycled over 113 tons of cardboard, mixed paper, newspaper, plastic, aluminum, steel and other scrap metal.  The Indians saved money on the waste avoidance and also made money from the sale of recyclable commodities.  

The ballpark did not hide its sustainability efforts.  In addition to placing numerous recycling bins throughout the ball park, the Indians helped educate fans.  Scoreboard announcements showing Indians players hitting plastic bottles into the appropriate recycling bin helped spread word.  In addition, a solar array on the south side of the ballpark demonstrates the viability of solar power in Northeast Ohio.    The Indians Green Team also guides and educates fans about how they can participate in the Indians’ efforts.

Progressive Field's commitment to recycling goes beyond just Indians games.  The 100+ year round employees now have access to cardboard, paper, can and bottle recycling for their daily work.  Employee education has been successful through bin labeling, emails, and hr boards.  In addition, Progressive Field has provided numerous lunch and learn seminars for employees to learn about specific things they can do to recycle more and help the environment.

Calendar of Events

What Do I Do With...? 
Find the answer to your biggest recycling question.

Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Program
City Service Departments

February 5, 2016
Community Recycling Awareness Grant applications due

February 5, 2016
Recycling Container Grant applications due

February 15, 2016
Holiday -- County offices closed

March 16, 2016
Waste & Recycling Sense for Business seminar

April 22, 2016
Happy Earth Day!


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