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Baltimore County Now

Stay informed of what's happening in Baltimore County.

photo of baled plasticRashida White
Public Information Specialist, Recycling Division

“What happens to my recyclables after they are collected?”  I get this question from time to time. Many people consider the process of recycling as simply putting materials out for collection and expecting them to “disappear.” However, collection is only the first step in the recycling process.

The second step in the recycling process involves processing the recyclables and turning them into marketable products. How does this happen? Well, once collected, recyclables are taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF – pronounced murf), where recyclables are placed on a series of conveyor belts and sorted multiple ways.  Sorting involves screens, magnets, air currents and also manual picking. After the material is separated by type, it is then baled and prepared for pickup or shipped to manufacturers. 

Recyclables are considered commodities – goods that can be sold at fluctuating prices. So, after leaving the MRF, these materials will be sold to local, regional, national and international businesses to become raw materials for new products. The materials end up in a manufacturing facility, where they are used as a substitute for virgin materials (paper for wood, aluminum cans for bauxite ore, plastics for oil, etc.).

Depending on the type of material and facility, a variety of new products are made. For example, new cans can be made out of recycled aluminum; pulverized glass can be used for a variety of construction projects; steel cans can be made into new steel cans or other steel products such as vehicles, appliances and construction material; and plastics, depending on the grade, can be made into products such as clothing, car parts, pipes, pails, lumber and pallets.

This leads to the third and final step in the recycling process, which is purchasing recycled products. Buying recycled products is a critical step for the overall recycling process because it creates and sustains a market demand for recyclables. The more recycled products consumers buy, the more manufacturers create products made from recycled materials. Without an adequate demand for recycled products, recycling would be ineffective.

So, if you have ever wondered what happens to your recyclables after collection, you may be buying them, wearing them and even driving them!


graphic of storm clouds with lightningCaptain Lonnie Ledford, Baltimore County Fire Department

A few weeks ago, in Part 1 of this blog, I covered thunderstorm watches, warnings and a few safety tips. Let’s pick up right where we left off, including some tips that apply just as well to the winter storms that are just around the corner.

Lightning rods attached to structures provide the safest pathway to ground for homes and businesses. If your home does not have one, the current from a lightning strike may travel via the home’s electrical or plumbing systems and could start a fire.  Also, remember to unplug sensitive electrical equipment such as computers and entertainment systems that are susceptible to electrical surges. You should seek shelter when the first rumble of thunder is heard, because if you can hear the thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.  Also, remain inside for at least one-half hour after the thunder stops. 

Another electrical hazard that may be encountered in a storm is the possibility of downed electrical wires.  DO NOT try to approach or move these wires as there may be a ground current that could be deadly. If in a vehicle, do not try to drive over wires on the ground or under hanging wires near a roadway. Getting within several feet of a downed wire may cause it to arc.  If the 9/18/14wire is arcing or smoking, call 911 to report the hazard.

Downed power lines routinely lead to power outages in an area. Caution should be used when dealing with these situations as well.  Battery powered lights should be used instead of open flame candles and oil lamps due to their inherent fire dangers.  Portable generators produce deadly carbon monoxide gas that can build up and create a toxic atmosphere inside of a structure.  Several fatalities have been attributed to operating portable generators inside or too close to an occupied structure. Also, take care to utilize the proper gauge extension cords with the generator and do not overload them. 

Wind created by a severe thunderstorm can also be deadly.  Loose debris can be blown into the air and cause damage to structures and injure people.  If you do not have permanent mounted and operating shutters on your home, closing the blinds and drapes can provide a slight buffer against debris that may break and enter a window.  A heavy plastic trash bag or a tarp and duct tape should be available as a temporary repair in case of a window being broken during a storm.  Make a list of items that you want to bring inside in case of a severe thunderstorm.  Remember to include items such as plants, pool items, wind-chimes and flags.   Patio furniture, grills and items that are too large to be brought inside or cannot be placed in a garage or shed should be tied down and secured.  If there are large trees on your property they should be trimmed regularly to ensure that there are no dead branches that could be broken and fall in high winds.  Dead trees near a structure should be removed to prevent damage due to being blown over in a storm. 

Flash flooding commonly leads to flooded roadways. NEVER try to drive through standing or moving water. It only takes eighteen inches of water for a vehicle, including trucks and SUV’s, to become buoyant. Moving water can then push the vehicle sideways and it may rollover trapping occupants inside. When in doubt: Turn Around Don’t Drown!

Use easy to understand language to explain the sights and sounds that may be experienced by young children during a thunderstorm.  Once they understand what is making the “loud boom and bright light” outside, it may help reduce their apprehension and anxiety during a storm. 

Lastly, every home should have an emergency plan and an emergency kit that includes at a minimum:

·         enough food and water to last for 72 hours per person

·         a flashlight with spare batteries

·         a battery operated radio or weather radio

Severe weather planning resources can be found at:

·         The National Weather Service

·         Ready.gov

·         Baltimore County’s Emergency Management web site


photo of a portion of the muralFronda Cohen, Director, Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences

How do you honor a war 200 years after it ended?  Our buildings, museums and parks are filled with monuments, historic markers and remembrances of battles won and battles valiantly fought and lost.  What ties these commemorations together is a desire to honor our soldiers and the families and communities that supported their service.

How do you create a remembrance that speaks to history and also engages people today?

The Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences took on the challenge of finding a way to use public art to honor Baltimore County’s role in the War of 1812.  They saw the battlefield at North Point as the centerpiece.  Here, a crucial military engagement stalled British land forces so American troops could fortify Ft. McHenry and save Baltimore from capture.

Battle Acre Park on North Point Road in Dundalk is an earlier commemoration of that important battle. Today, overlooking a newly renovated park, is new public art mural that captures not only the history and leaders of the battle, but the fighting spirit of its citizen soldiers and the pride residents took in their service. 

photo showing entire mural

The “Home of the Brave” mural features the battle engagement, with American troops holding formation, blocking British troops from advancing.  This panel is flanked by portraits of the battle’s military leaders, U.S. General John Stricker and British General Robert Ross.  Another panel highlights the historic Todd’s Inheritance homestead, showing rural life in eastern Baltimore County during the early 1800s.  A final scene shows a celebration ceremony held in 1839, just 25 years after the Battle of North Point was waged on the site.

After the fireworks are over, the “Home of the Brave” mural will remain to remind us of the bravery and commitment of America’s citizen soldiers.  Visit Baltimore County’s Battle Acre Park and remember a legacy of service that lives on today.  

The “Home of the Brave” mural was designed and painted by artist Marshall Adams and is a project of the Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences in partnership with the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation.  Funding was provided through grants from The Citizens of Baltimore County and the Maryland State Arts Council.


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