The city of Cleveland has put out a call to firms throughout the state to design, build, and operate a new recycling plant for the city’s municipal waste collection service. The request for proposal, or RFP, put out by the Department of Public Works calls for a facility that will take in residential and commercial waste and separate out the recyclable materials. This process would run in parallel to the city’s current curbside recycling service in order to maximize resource recovery. The RFP also includes a proviso calling on the facility’s operator to process municipal solid waste, or MSW, into a synthetic fuel that can be used as a coal substitute for steam generation. The project may also include systems to divert organic waste from landfills through either composting or producing biogas through the process of anaerobic digestion.

This new facility is part of the Cleveland Climate Action Plan, a plan adopted by the city to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The plan is far-reaching, with provisions that range from expanding the use of renewable energy sources to improving land use regulations. Of course, waste reduction and resource conservation will play an equally important role for the city’s long-term sustainability efforts; as evidenced by the city’s commitment to a new recycling process.

Already, the city of Cleveland has rolled out new automated collection services that increase the efficiency of trash removal while also reducing costs. At the same time it has expanded the availability of its curbside recycling program to cover a greater number of Clevelanders, an action that has increased participation rates and reduced the amount of waste that the city sends to landfills.

Among the pool of likely bidders is local waste-to-energy company Quasar Energy Group, which specializes in anaerobic digesters. Their expertise in the process of converting organic waste to energy, as well as their locality, gives them a leg up on larger firms such as Waste Management and Republic Services. However, the city has retained the possibility of splitting up the contract so that one company will be responsible for building and operating the mixed waste processing facility, while another will focus on the organics processing systems of the plant.

Proposals are due to the city by June 12, after which the long six month decision process will begin, with final approval expected in December.