As part of the Cities Taking Action to Address Health, Equity, and Climate Change Initiative, Cleveland was one of six U.S. cities that received support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and C40 Cities to create transformative community-led projects.

What is Circular Cleveland?

Circular Cleveland is a collaborative effort to advance a circular economy by refashioning the local economy of Cleveland and addressing the effects of waste and pollution on residents’ health. A circular economy is a system where no materials or goods are wasted thanks to maintenance, reuse, refurbishment, recycling, and composting. Led by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the City of Cleveland, and Neighborhood Connections, Circular Cleveland is a collaboration between community organisations, businesses and engaged residents. The project uses the 2013 and 2018 Cleveland Climate Action Plans as the foundation for its groundbreaking work.

The goals of the project are to:

  • redesign systems to use natural resources more efficiently
  • create jobs and investment opportunities
  • support and protect a healthier environment for residents now and in the future

Based on a landscape analysis and conversations with local stakeholders, the Circular Cleveland team identified which strategies would be most impactful to reduce consumption and pollution and how to achieve them. These ideas were published in the report Circular Cleveland: A roadmap towards an inclusive, circular city.

What has Circular Cleveland achieved so far?

Circular Cleveland Community Grants

Since April 2021, 37 circular economy-focused grants have been awarded to engaged residents and community organisations whose work contributes to creating a circular economy in Cleveland. These include ‘Cleveland Sews the NFL Draft’ led by Cleveland Sews, which repurposes materials from the National Football League (NFL) Draft into accessories and as training materials for community-based sewing education programmes. Another grant-winning project is ‘Renew the Earth’ – a composting programme in a community garden open to the public, led by the Ben Franklin Community Garden.

Circular Cleveland has also partnered with SCORE Cleveland to award three prizes of US$10,000 to small businesses launching and incubating ideas that adopt principles of circular economy.

Cleveland Community Ambassadors. © Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, City of Cleveland
Cleveland Community Ambassadors. © Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, City of Cleveland

Fix-It CLE Repair Workshops

The Fix-It CLE Repair Workshops provide a space for Cleveland residents to gather as a community and learn or hone their skills to repair different types of household items, including clothes and small appliances. Through partnerships with the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District and Sears think[box] at Case Western Reserve University, Fix-it CLE workshops have been held twice a month since July 2022. More than 111 items have been fixed over 25 Fix-it CLE events.

Composting pilot

The City of Cleveland has instituted its first composting programme at a city-owned facility. The City has joined forces with Rust Belt Riders Composting (RBR) and the Hunger Network at the West Side Market to create a food rescue programme. This distributes leftover edible food to local organisations serving those most in need and diverts food waste to be composted and turned into soil. So far, 5,000 lbs of food waste from the market has been diverted from landfill.

Through these community-led initiatives, the Circular Cleveland team is empowering community leaders and organisations to advance a more sustainable, healthier, and just Cleveland.

Learn more about Circular Cleveland

Support for this project was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of the Cities Taking Action to Address Health, Equity, and Climate Change Initiative. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

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