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WM, based in Houston and formerly known as Waste Management Inc., has announced it will invest approximately $30 million in its material recovery facility (MRF) in Oakwood, Ohio, near Cleveland.

The company says the investment will be used to install optical sorting scanners for fiber and plastic designed to optimize the recovery and quality of recycled materials. The project also includes system upgrades to support what WM calls sophisticated glass recovery and cleanup, as well as a fire-detection system designed to detect and put out fires before they spread.

Additionally, the current recycling center’s baled commodity storage space is expected to increase from approximately 7,000 square feet to 32,000 square feet.

Construction on the expanded facility already has begun, and the project is expected to be completed by March 2023, WM says.

“WM works with our customers to help achieve their recycling needs, and with more than half a million customers in Ohio, it is critical that we continue to invest in our communities and expand our recycling infrastructure,” says Aaron Johnson, Great Lakes area vice president for WM. “At our core, WM is a sustainability company, and with this investment in the Cleveland community our team is proud to reinforce our commitment to the environment.”

The waste and recycling firm says the project is part of its planned $275 million investment in recycling infrastructure in 2022, bringing the company’s overall investment in new and upgraded recycling facilities to more than $1.3 billion since 2018.

With the demand for recycled content products continuing to rise, the investment is expected to enable WM to capture more recycled materials and increase access to recycling for its customers, the firm says.

A brand-new recycling education room also is planned for the Cleveland MRF, which will be open to the public for scheduled education sessions and tours.

Currently, WM operates four MRFs in Ohio. With this expansion, WM’s Cleveland facility is projected to become the primary recycling processing hub in the state. WM anticipates adding an additional 40 positions at the site and providing “the opportunity to upskill current roles as technology is added.”

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) recently announced the award of a $200,000 Market Development Grant to support the planned recycling processing improvements. The grant award continues what WM calls strong collaboration between WM and the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District to improve recycling capabilities in Ohio.

“The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District is thrilled that WM chose to expand recycling capabilities in Northeast Ohio, as it will serve as a catalyst for other sustainability efforts in the area,” says Elizabeth Biggins-Ramer, executive director of Cleveland-based Cuyahoga Recycles. “Additionally, WM’s education center will provide residents, businesses and community leaders the opportunity to experience how to recycle right.”

“This facility will provide a greater opportunity for local solutions for single-stream recycling,” WM’s Johnson adds. “We are proud to bring cutting-edge equipment and technology to the people and businesses we serve in Cuyahoga County and beyond, helping to make Ohio cleaner and greener for all.”

WM describes itself as North America’s largest comprehensive waste management environmental solutions provider via its subsidiaries that provide collection, recycling and disposal services to residential, commercial, industrial and municipal customers in the United States and Canada.