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The Resource

Keyword: environment

by Jeanette Garcia Polasky, Department of Public Works

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With the COVID-19 pandemic changing everyday life here and around the world, most people have cancelled plans and rearranged their lives, and many are learning how to do new things or do things in a new way. Celebrating Earth Month or the 50th Earth Day is no exception.

Instead of attending tree plantings, community clean ups or Baltimore Earth Day 2020 at Oregon Ridge Park—which was set to be the region’s first major Earth Day event—people have found ways to mark “Earth Day Anyway” at home throughout the month of April. In an effort to help people find ways to participate during the pandemic, the Clean Green Baltimore County Facebook page created an “Earth Day Anyway” Facebook Event page and has posted tips and resources for recognizing Earth Month all month long.

Earth Month is now coming to a close, but you can do these things year round to help make ours a more sustainable county and world.

Photo of Marshy Point
  1. Use these tips to save energy at home.
  2. Improve your efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle.
  3. Find ways to waste less food.
  4. In the yard: Plant pollinator-friendly native trees and plants (PDF), grasscycle and compost yard materials.
  5. Watch, read and learn about our planet and the ways in which we impact its health. Watch Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.’s Earth Day video greeting on the County’s Facebook page. Follow Clean Green Baltimore County on Facebook and visit the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy’s “Earth Day Anyway” webpage for ideas and educational resources.

A new public service ad demonstrates why Baltimore County doesn’t accept items such as plastic bags and clothing for recycling. Produced in-house by Bureau of Solid Waste Management employees, “Tangled Up!” shows how operations are halted daily at the County’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) because of residents putting “tanglers” in their recycling bins.

“Tangled Up!” will be shown before feature films at Cinemark Towson, AMC White Marsh and AMC Owings Mills through the end of January. It will also run on the County’s television channel, BCTV (cable channel 25 on Verizon and Comcast). Currently, the PSA can be viewed online at Facebook, YouTube and the County’s website.

What are Tanglers?

Tanglers are materials such as plastic bags and textiles that get caught in the MRF equipment and must be cut out by hand, one by one, for operations to resume. At the end of each day, the County uses 10 temporary employees to cut tanglers from between a few thousand “stars” on the MRF’s five sorting screens. Watch footage of the sorters at the County’s MRF becoming tangled with plastic bags. If residents kept tanglers out of the recycling stream, these employees could do other maintenance.

Recycling and Waste Prevention Manager Charlie Reighart said that keeping tanglers out of the recycling stream is part of an overall effort by the County to reduce contamination. Reducing contamination (non-recyclable items in the bin) has become more important due to efforts by China to ban imports of certain products and tighten contamination limits on others.

 “While we appreciate residents recycling, it is critical that they keep contaminants out of their recycling so that the County receives more money for its recyclables and produces quality material for new products,” Reighart said. “We hope this PSA will get people to think twice before they throw.”

Keep Tanglers Out of the Recycling Stream

The County asks residents to reuse, upcycle, donate or properly dispose of tanglers in a trash can instead of placing them in the recycling bin.

Local retailers often accept plastic bags for recycling. Residents are encouraged to visit abagslife.com or plasticfilmrecycling.org to find plastic bag recycling drop-off locations in Baltimore County. In addition, the Bureau of Solid Waste Management updates its Reuse Directory every two years to help residents find places to donate or sell clothing, linens and other items that the County does not accept for recycling. For tangler upcycle projects and reuse ideas, residents can follow Clean Green Baltimore County on Facebook or search Pinterest.

For more information on accepted recyclables, see the County’s website or call 410-887-2000.

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Revised October 25, 2019