Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz
Residential Recycling Record Announcement
February 28, 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen it is great to be here in Sparrows Point will all of you this morning to celebrate an important milestone for Baltimore County.
Almost thirty years ago, recycling was, to put it politely, a chore. County citizens who wanted to recycle some of their trash, rather than just throw it away, had to sort their goods by paper, cans, and bottles, and then drive it all the way to a community pick-up center. By 1995, that changed, and Baltimore County instituted once-a-week recycling and trash collection pick-up for homes throughout our communities. That program was more user-friendly and won national recognition, but there was still room for improvement. While local pick-up made recycling easier, it was still a tedious process to separate types of trash.
Single Stream Recycling
In 2010, we took a significant step forward with the launch of single stream recycling program, which accepted not only mixed recycling collection, but also a broader range of materials. Before long, the program was expanded from single family and town homes to include nearly all County apartment and condominium units.
New County Record
Our goal was to see an increase in recycling throughout the County, but the results have been staggering. In 2011 alone, we collected more than 51,300 tons of material for recycling from County residents. This is an all time County record and a 42 percent increase from 2009, the last year of our previous program.
51,300 Tons Explained
Now 51,300 tons worth of recyclable material is impressive, but that is an awfully large number. It’s so big, it can be hard to wrap your head around it. So let’s put this in terms we can all understand.
Everyone here knows Haloti Ngata. Haloti is one of the best defensive players, not only on the Ravens, but in the entire NFL. There are many reasons he is a Pro Bowl caliber player, but one of them is the fact that he is a big guy--330 pounds big. So if we want to visualize what 51,300 tons represents, all we have to do is picture 310,909 Haloti Ngatas. Just imagine what John Harbaugh could do with them! But that’s still kind of hard to imagine. So instead, picture four M&T Bank Stadiums where every seat is filled with Haloti Ngata, and there would still be enough Haloti’s left over to fill the parking lots for tail gating. That is not just Ben Roethlisberger’s worst nightmare, it is the equivalent of how much our residents recycled in Baltimore County last year.
This much recycling represents not only a contribution to the future of our environment, but also the kind of fiscal responsibility that the people of this County expect and deserve from their government. Currently, it costs $56 a ton to dispose of trash. By diverting these materials to recycling instead, we saved nearly $2.9 million in avoided disposal costs.
Public Private Partnership
However, while the work of those public servants has been essential to this program’s success, our manufacturing sector has also been a critical factor in making it work so well. Not only do they recycle a large amount of waste themselves, they help process recycled materials as well.
In fact, right here at AMG Resources, 1,000 tons of the steel they process every month come directly out of homes, including those in Baltimore County, who set out their steel cans for recycling. Once they have de-tinned that steel, it then moves to RG Steel, also here in Sparrows Point, where it is made into sheet metal which ends up being remanufactured in new products ranging from tin cans to automobiles. So I want to take this opportunity to thank Allan Goldstein and everyone at AMG Resources, as well as Jeff Mikula, and all of the steel workers here, for making this company and our entire manufacturing sector such an important part of this effort.