The chorus of concern over plastics recycling now is shouting "Hello, Cleveland!"
(That Spinal Tap reference is brought to you by the Cleveland-based Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.)
The Aug. 1 issue of Cleveland's Scene magazine — a weekly news and entertainment publication — focused on "local efforts to ditch plastic straws, stymied attempts at taxing plastic bags and what you're getting wrong about recycling," according to the cover of that issue.
The four-page feature story written by Sam Allard drew my interest as a plastics nerd and as a Cleveland-area resident. Those interviewed by Allard for the story included an official with the Cuyahoga County solid waste district and the owner of two local restaurants who's trying to make ecofriendly choices.
Cleveland has the same recycling challenges as many large urban areas do. They use the same recycler — Kimble Recycling & Disposal — that's used by Wickliffe, the much smaller town where I live.
Kimble doesn't have the equipment to recycle plastic bags, so residents in Kimble communities have to save the bags for future use or take them to some local stores that do offer that service. Cleveland also recently started to enforce $100 fines for residents placing items that can't be recycled into the Kimble recycling bins.
There's also a cost factor involved. The restaurant owner — Eric Williams, who owns Momocho and El Carnicero — said he went from paying 1 cent for 10 plastics straws to paying 2.8 cents each for individually wrapped plastic straws, which he gives to customers who ask for one.
But the most Cleveland moment in the piece comes when reporter Allard visits Nano Bar, another ecofriendly location.
"We ask a bartender for a straw, and an inebriated patron leans over to set us straight. 'No straws here,' he reports. 'We're saving the environment, dude.'"