Baltimore County Now
Diana DeBoy, Student Intern, Baltimore County Bureau of Solid Waste Management;
Towson University Mass Communication Major
Today, some people might find it difficult to understand the benefits and importance of recycling. Honestly, until a few months ago, I had never recycled and didn’t know where to start. Then I began an internship with the Baltimore County Bureau of Solid Waste Management and learned the importance of such an easy task. Recycling has a significant impact on preserving Baltimore County’s only active landfill, which is already 51 percent full. When we recycle, we divert materials from the landfill, thus extending its lifespan. Recycling also has other benefits, such as conserving natural resources, reducing pollution, and even saving money! For instance, for every ton of recyclable material diverted from trash, Baltimore County and its taxpayers save $60. In 2012 alone, residents’ recycling avoided nearly $3 million in trash disposal costs.
So, if you’re new to recycling like me, you may be thinking, “I don’t know what I can recycle.” Simple everyday materials such as glass bottles, aluminum foil, narrow-neck plastic bottles and newspaper are all examples of items that are accepted in the Baltimore County Single Stream program. If you pass by something in your house and you aren’t sure if the item is acceptable, just visit www.baltimorecountymd.gov/recycling to see a complete list of acceptable plastics, glass, metals and paper.
There is also something you can do that’s even better than recycling -preventing waste in the first place. For example, buying items with less packaging or things that can be reused will decrease the amount of material that needs to be landfilled.
So, why not give recycling a try and help preserve our landfill? Good luck and happy recycling everyone!
Solid Waste Superintendent, Bureau of Solid Waste Management
We all have busy lives. We devote our precious time to work, kids, community service, hobbies, and any number of other daily activities. For many of us, the last thing we want to think about is trash! In fact, for most of us, all we really want is to place our trash out for collection at the curb or alley and have it disappear.
Unfortunately, there may come a time when the trash doesn’t disappear. In most cases, there is a perfectly logical reason why trash collection does not occur. Following are some of the most common causes of missed trash collection.
Baltimore County regulations require that trashcans are limited to a maximum capacity of 34 gallons and a maximum filled weight of 40 pounds. These regulations are in place to protect the hard-working men and women on the back of the collection trucks. It is not uncommon for a single truck to collect trash from more than 1,500 homes in a day, with many homes placing two or three trashcans out for collection. It’s not hard to imagine the risk of repetitive motion injuries that could result from lifting oversize or overweight cans. Also, the County does not recommend using trashcans with hinged lids or wheels due to difficulty in handling by the collectors and the wheels/lids being prone to breakage.
Baltimore County regulations state that trash should be set out after 6:00 p.m. the night before a scheduled collection. Although some collectors arrive at a certain time each week, there are any number of factors (e.g., weather, traffic, holidays) that could cause them to arrive earlier or later than “normal.” It’s never a good idea to “set your clock” by the collector and the best way to ensure collection is to have your trash out the night before.
Although the collectors make every effort to collect the household trash people set out, there are items that should not be set out at the curb or alley. Bulk items (e.g., mattresses, furniture, appliances, building materials) are too large to be collected. Dangerous items (e.g., chemicals, paint, explosives) can create hazardous conditions for the workers and should never be placed out for collection. Additionally, it is illegal in Baltimore County to dispose of most household electronics (e.g., TVs, computer equipment, VCRs) as trash. For more information on how to properly dispose of all of the aforementioned materials, visit www.baltimorecountymd.gov/solidwaste.
Baltimore County Code requires that vehicles parked in alleys must allow at least 12 feet clearance. You can report parked vehicles that prevent access to an alley by trash collection and/or emergency vehicles using the Baltimore County Police Department’s non-emergency line, 410-887-2222.
It’s important to remember the hard-working crews that collect trash from the nearly 330,000 homes in Baltimore County each week. If you get a chance, I hope you join me in thanking these folks for a job well done. Or, better yet, thank them on collection day by following the rules and regulations detailed here and you’ll also be helping ensure that your trash disappears on collection day!
Baltimore County Recycling & Waste Prevention Manager
As I joined County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Council Chair Tom Quirk today in Catonsville to announce that County residents have recycled a record-breaking 52,500 tons of curbside recyclables, I couldn’t help but think back a couple of decades when recycling first got its start here – and realize how much easier it is now!
Oh, how far we have come! On June 23, 1990, at the Giant Food parking lot at the corner of Loch Raven Boulevard and Taylor Avenue, a surprisingly large contingent of Baltimore County residents arrived in 600 vehicles during a three-hour period. These residents brought with them recyclable paper and bottles and cans to the County’s first volunteer-operated, County-assisted, recycling drop-off center (“Towson-Parkville”). Residents waited patiently in long lines, sometimes for a half hour or more, to hand-deliver their recyclables. Over several years, nine different volunteer organizations ran recycling drop-off centers all around the County. Back in the day, at each center there were seven different drop-off receptacles (one each for mixed paper, tin cans, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and jugs, and three colors of glass), each watched over like a hawk by a volunteer to ensure against cross-contamination. Recycling progress was measured pound by pound.
Fast-forward to today. No more long lines, just the distance from your home to the closest curb or alley. No more having to separate recyclables into seven different receptacles (one will do just fine with the County’s “single stream” collection program). And progress is no longer measured in pounds, but in tens of thousands of tons. On March 7, 2013, the County Executive announced an all-time, annual County record for recycling – more than 52,300 tons in 2012! Are you and your community recycling all you can? Find out at bcrecycles.com.
Before the end of 2013, the County expects to open its own single stream recycling sorting facility, which will usher in yet another exciting chapter in the County’s environmental leadership.
Here’s to Baltimore County’s rich recycling history, proud present, and especially its promising future.