- What is "single stream recycling," and when did it start in Baltimore County?
- What kinds of materials are accepted for single stream recycling?
- Does Baltimore County provide recycling containers?
- Why are plastic bags an unacceptable way to set out recyclables in the single stream program?
- May residents simply set out all their trash on recycling days?
- Is recycling really cost-effective?
- How does recycling improve the environment?
- What can businesses that are interested in recycling do?
A. Single stream recycling means that paper, bottles and cans may be combined in the same container to be placed out for collection each week. Baltimore County's single stream collection program became available to all single family homes and town homes in the County on February 1, 2010. By October 1, 2010, nearly all apartment and condominium complexes in the County were also participating in the program.
Information and a video about the single stream sorting process can be found on the County's sorting facility page.
A. In the current single stream program, residents are now able to recycle more items than ever before, including:
- narrow-neck plastic bottles and jugs with a number from one to seven in a recycling symbol;
- wide-mouth plastic containers (such as butter and yogurt containers);
- rigid plastics (such as buckets, drinking cups and flower pots);
- empty aerosol cans;
- aluminum foil and pie pans; and
- milk and juice cartons or boxes.
For a full list of accepted materials, visit the Bureau's recycling information page.
A. The County currently does not provide recycling containers, mainly to avoid incurring County expenses in these tight fiscal times.
However, in an effort to make recycling convenient for residents, there is considerable flexibility in how recyclables may be placed out for collection. View our set-out guide to learn about the wide variety of acceptable recycling containers in Baltimore County.
Baltimore County has also made stickers available for residents that may be affixed to containers as another way to designate that the containers are being used exclusively for recycling. These stickers are not in any way required to participate in the single stream recycling program. Stickers for recycling containers are available free of charge at the following locations: Baltimore County senior centers, Baltimore County public libraries and the County’s three trash and recycling drop-off centers in White Marsh, Cockeysville and Halethorpe. We encourage residents to call ahead to a library or senior center before visiting to ensure that they have a supply of container stickers.
A. Unfortunately, plastic bags cause complications at the single stream recycling sorting facility. Malfunctions can occur when plastic bags get wrapped around the equipment. Therefore, Baltimore County is not collecting recyclables in plastic bags. Even if a plastic bag is marketed as "for recycling," "recyclable," or "compostable," it is not acceptable as a recycling container in Baltimore County.
Though plastic bags are not permitted in Baltimore County's single stream program, many local grocery stores will accept clean, dry plastic bags for recycling. You can help the environment even more by using reusable bags when shopping. This will eliminate or reduce the need for plastic bags.
A. No, only acceptable recyclable items may be placed out for collection on recycling days.
A. Yes, recycling is cost-effective. Disposing of recyclables as trash costs the County and its taxpayers $61 per ton. Avoiding unnecessary disposal costs through recycling is a major advantage of recycling.
Additionally, Baltimore County now owns its own single stream sorting facility, located at the Central Acceptance Facility in Cockeysville. By marketing the recyclables that have been sorted at the facility, Baltimore County is able to retain the value of these materials and maximize the financial benefits of its single stream recycling program. The sorting facility has already proven financially successful – in just its first six months of operation (November 2013 through April 2014), the facility generated net operating revenues of nearly one million dollars.
For more information about the sorting facility, including available tours, visit the Bureau's sorting facility page.
A. Recycling improves the environment in many ways:
- Baltimore County’s only landfill, Eastern Sanitary Landfill, is already 51 percent full. Recycling diverts materials from going in the landfill, thereby extending landfill life.
- Recycling conserves natural resources, such as timber, water and mineral ores.
- Supplying recycled materials to an industry uses less energy than supplying virgin materials that incur extra extraction and transportation costs.
- Manufacturing with recycled materials, with very few exceptions, produces less air and water pollution than manufacturing with virgin materials.
A. Although the County does not offer recycling collection service to businesses, the Bureau offers advice and guidance to businesses interested in recycling. This includes making presentations about recycling and, in some cases, allowing businesses with advance permission to drop off recyclable paper, cardboard, aluminum, steel and plastic items at one of Baltimore County's three drop-off centers. Businesses interested in more information or assistance from the County can call the Bureau’s customer service line at 410-887-2000. Further information regarding commercial recycling is available at www.mdrecycles.org.
Revised September 10, 2014