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Keyword: recyclables

photo of sorting line at plantRecycling Success Story!

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced today that since it opened in November 2013, through December 11, 2015, the County’s single stream recycling sorting facility in Cockeysville has sold 108,000 tons of recyclables, generating gross revenues of $13.8 million and avoiding $6.7 million in trash disposal costs.

“This facility has been a real success story from day one,” Kamenetz said. “It’s a great example of smart government, where we invested in ourselves and are benefitting directly from our residents’ recycling efforts rather than paying a third-party vendor to process recyclables.”

Recycling Facility Tours Now Available

The County’s Bureau of Solid Waste Management offers free public tours of the single stream processing facility. Tours last approximately 60 to 90 minutes. Space constraints limit tours to a maximum of 30 people, so preregistration is required for all tours. Those interested in tours can contact Public Information Specialist Clyde Trombetti by email at or by phone at 410-887-2791.

Are You Recycling All You Can?

Residential recycling rates for 44 different areas of the County are updated monthly. For more information on the County's solid waste and recycling program, including four-year collection schedules and guides, call 410-887-2000.

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!

Revised September 26, 2016