City of Oberlin's Zero Waste Plan Goals

Posted by Cullen Naumoff
Cullen Naumoff
Cullen Naumoff, joined the Oberlin Project in September 2014 as the Director of
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on November 20, 2014 in Community

While this February’s fire that destroyed the City of Oberlin’s refuse fleet was not an ideal scenario, it did provide a catalyst for the City to rethink its public recycling and refuse program.  The new process, which launches this week, is one step toward realizing the City’s new Zero Waste policy, passed by City Council in May 2014.  Oberlin’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Commission worked closely with the City to develop the new zero waste policy.

Each residence will receive two 64-gallon carts; one for recycling and one for refuse.  The City’s revised recycling process does not require sorting on behalf of the residents.  Multiple sources have noted that mixed, single stream has proven to improve recycling rates in municipalities by 30%-%50%, nationally.  All recyclables will be taken to Republic’s recycling facility just east of town.  Republic’s facility was built in 2013 and uses an advanced sorting system with the latest technology in mechanical and optical sorting.  The facility is touted as one of the most advanced in the state.

Arguably, the most innovative aspect of the new recycling & refuse program is the purchase of three hybrid hydraulic recycling trucks with automated pickup.  Oberlin is the first municipality in the state of Ohio to purchase and utilize these fuel-efficient trucks.   Parker Hannifin, the collection by about 30%.

Students at Oberlin College played a role in enabling the City to purchase these state-of-the-art recycling trucks through funds made available by the Green Edge Fund.  In the fall of 2007, Oberlin College students voted to raise their student fees to support the creation of the Green Edge Fund.  Every semester students pay $20 toward the fund that uses this money to fund efficiency and sustainability project on campus and in the broader Oberlin community.  This year, the Fund approved a grant for up to $10,000 per truck for up to three trucks to the City of Oberlin to restore and modernize their recycling program.

The city also received, with the assistance of Lorain County Solid Waste Management District (LCSWMD), a grant for $200,000 from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to use toward the purchase of the hybrid hydraulic trucks and recovery of recycling operations.  

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Cullen Naumoff, joined the Oberlin Project in September 2014 as the Director of Sustainable Enterprise. In this role, Cullen leads the sustainable economic initiatives to drive smart growth in and around Oberlin, Ohio. Cullen brings to this role innovative and inclusive strategies that aim to both attract and grow triple bottom lined businesses in the community.

Prior to joining The Oberlin Project, Cullen was the Vision 2030 Project Director at the Charleston Area Alliance. The Charleston Area Alliance is a multifaceted, regional economic development entity re-charting the course of West Virginia’s economic future. She drove the long-term economic development strategy to capitalize on the strengths of West Virginia and match them with emerging megatrends to position the state to become a development model among many emerging entrepreneurial industries and policies.

Cullen was a Teach for America Corp member in New York City where she taught middle school math and science. Post completion of graduate school in 2010 in NYC, she joined forces with Bayer Corporation to assist in designing their North American sustainability strategy out of the Pittsburgh headquarters.

Cullen received her BS in Industrial and Systems Engineering from The Ohio State University and her MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University. She resides in Oberlin, OH where outside of the office you’ll find her marathoning, teaching spin (indoor cycling) and exploring all things wild and wonderful.


David Egloff November 20, 2014

Does Republic charge the City more for single stream recycling compared to multiple stream systems?
What proportion of materials in the single stream Republic system are recycled and what proportion becomes unmarketable and/or contaminated
and must be sent to the landfill?

Charles Annable November 20, 2014

I noticed on N. Pleasant St every single can had been dropped on its side, blocking the sidewalk. Many people can't park them in their garage so they sit outside blighting the neighborhood. Some senior citizens cannot maneuver them safely. 64 gallons is a net reduction in the amount of refuse previously allowed (105) yet we will get a price increase in January. They will seriously damage a car when they have blown into the road and the car hits them at night. They are ugly. $330,000 is just a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a garbage truck no matter how many grants you have received. I'll stop (though there are many more reasons this is another ill thought-out mess the city has made for itself).

David Egloff November 21, 2014

There is a potential that single stream recycling will result in greatly increased recycling thus offsetting some of the increased costs of collection and handling. I'm skeptical but it could happen. Meanwhile, we need school and a door to door campaign to educate and encourage more people to recycle. Public pronouncements and brochures will not reach many households.

Sandy Sweet November 21, 2014

I have not been at all happy about what happened to our garbage trucks. That was quite an "accident" and I'm convinced if I made a mistake like that I would not be employed anymore. I agree hat seniors will, no doubt, have a difficult time moving these containers. But no more than they had moving ones with more weight and no wheels. I find it much easier to move the new cans. They are a better site than people's garbage all over. Although I completely agree they should not be left out all week. I do not want to drive around Oberlin and have these in plain view. I'm not sure if they will fall over at night although we may be subject to strong winds. I DID SEE THE CANS ON THEIR SIDES AND WAS EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED IN THIS. I am one who read this pamphlet front to back but many will not. I also made my family aware of the "how to's" of the new recycling. I am thrilled that I can recycle in this way. It is very helpful. I am grateful at least that we are moving forward and Oberlin did receive money to help. I'm sure these concerns can be worked out. It's still new. Thanks

Paul Kobulnicky November 25, 2014

For those who have concerns about the appropriateness of this change, drive north, south, east or west during the week. Look at the trash and recycling containers that are out for collection and you will notice that they are just like our new containers. This is how trash and recycling are collected today. Oberlin is not taking a risk on some new fangled system; we are just catching up.

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