Baltimore County Now
Chris Korpman, Engineer III
Baltimore County Public Works
There is FOG in the sewers –but it’s not that misty stuff that fills the air. The term “F.O.G.” stands for fats, oils and grease. Originating in our kitchens, it clogs sanitary sewer systems across Baltimore County and is a harmful threat to the environment. When poured or washed down the drain, FOG builds up on pipe walls, restricting the flow of wastewater exiting our home’s plumbing.
Over time, FOG leads to blockages that result in overflows into our homes or onto our streets, down storm drains, and into local waterways, all posing a serious risk to public health.
The 10 most common sources of FOG are:
- Cooking Oil
- Fat trimmings
- Butter and Lard
- Baking Goods
- Dairy Products
- Food Scraps
Put Fats, oil and grease where they belong…
Never pour F.O.G. into your sink or toilet. Rather, dispose of F.O.G. into a small can, storing in the freezer until full. When it’s full, throw it into the trash.
When there is F.O.G. residue in a pan or on a dish, wipe it with a paper towel before washing and throw the towel in the trash.
Place a strainer in the kitchen sink drain to catch food scraps and other solids, then empty the strainer into the trash.
Please keep this in mind during your holidays and remember, "Cease the Grease."
Deborah Meehan, CPPB
Division Chief, Baltimore County Purchasing Services
Office of Budget & Finance
As a professional buyer, it’s always important to get the most “bang for your buck,” the best value and quality at the lowest price possible. Here in Baltimore County’s Purchasing Division, we are proud of our commitment to not only save money, but to get the best “deal” for our environment as well.
Years ago, realizing the impact that a large local government can have on local recycling markets, we updated the County Code to specify the purchase of recycled and recyclable products. This includes the purchase of recycled paper that contains post-consumer fiber as well as the use of double-sided copies.
We make a point to purchase Energy Star computer equipment and appliances. We have gone green with our janitorial cleaning products – using citrus-based cleaners to reduce toxicity while saving money without sacrificing results.
As you might imagine, we recycle tons of paper and bottles and cans from County offices and facilities. But it doesn’t end there. We also recycle outdated computer and electronic equipment by the truckload, keeping it out of landfills and earning a rebate per pound. And, we make a point to ensure that these e-cyclables are not shipped offshore to facilities with questionable environmental standards.
Our printer cartridge recycling effort is a particular success story. We are enjoying significant savings on this basic office expense without any reduction in quality.
We have recently begun to accept some bids or proposals electronically, and expect to eventually open that procedure up to all bids and proposals, saving reams and boxes of paper per bid. When you consider that we have more than 1,100 contracts and receive an average of 175 bids per year, that’s a lot of paper and a lot of trees! Plus, electronic submission simplifies and speeds up our processing.
We are committed to being part of the solution, and our environmentally preferable purchasing policies are making a difference for the bottom line and are helping to ensure a healthy environment for all of our children and grandchildren.
Justin Tucker, Baltimore County Office of Communications Intern, contributed to this blog.
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!