We have cancelled Montgomery County-provided recycling, yard trim, and trash collection service for Monday and Tuesday, due to the high wind and storm conditions that have been predicted.
After the storm, all collections will slide, and be two days later than normal.
Assuming that roads are passable, we will resume our normal collection schedule on Monday, November 5, 2012.
If you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, or if you live in a municipality, our schedule announcements may not apply to your trash service -- check with your hauler or community manager.
If your collection day is
Your collection day this week is
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Friday, November 2, 2012
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Sunday, November 4, 2012
If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please call the Montgomery County Customer Service Center (MC311) at 311 (out-of-County: 240-777-0311, TTY: 301-251-4850)
To help you with spring cleaning, here's a dip into our mailbag. Someone recently asked us:
May I recycle sticker backings?
We checked with our paper recycler, who said... yes! In fact, if you have stickers or labels which you are not able to use or reuse, we can accept those as well.
And, of course, when a sticker or label is stuck to paper, cardboard or envelopes which you're recycling, you may leave it stuck right where it is -- you do not need to remove it. (However, you might like to remove labels with your name or address to help prevent identity theft.)
One of the questions I am most often asked is "Why must I separate my recyclables for collection?" The answer has to do with the way our Recycling Center, or Materials Recycling Facility (MRF), is designed. The MRF is where all the recyclables are sorted by material type and processed for market.
Our customers are asked to separate materials into two containers, and our collection trucks are separated into two compartments because the MRF is divided into two sections.
The Montgomery County MRF has two separate sorting lines: one for paper products (including cardboard), and the other for commingled items (bottles, cans, jars, and containers). When the recycling collection truck enters the MRF, the paper side of the truck is emptied in one area, and the commingled in another.
The two "streams" of material are processed separately. When the commingled materials travel through the series of conveyors in the MRF, the glass, plastic, aluminum and steel items are further separated from each other. After this final separation, each material is prepared separately (most are baled) and shipped to market.
This dual stream system results in cleaner bales of material, which are easier to market. These bales bring in a higher value, enabling the MRF to cover its operating costs.
Most weekends find Division of Solid Waste Services staff and volunteers at community fairs, festivals, and other happenings. These events give us great opportunities to bring you our displays, to give you literature and other goodies and to answer your questions about waste reduction, recycling and trash disposal.
We teach at these events, and we also learn. We get to hear about the interesting and inspiring things you and your families are accomplishing!
Last Saturday, a colleague represented our Division at Bethesda Green’s “Green Home Expo”. In chatting with an Expo visitor, she learned about Kate. Kate is a local middle school student… and a filmmaker.
When an English class assignment tasked her with reporting on her experiences about a community project, Kate focused on recycling. She wanted to show her class the importance of recycling, and the consequences of not recycling. To accomplish this, she set to work on a video, scripting, filming, and adding voiceovers and music.
Her research took her to our Recycling Center, where she filmed video segments of the Tour Room and the sorting process. She was surprised to see how many workers manually sorted recyclables passing by on swift conveyer belts. In an email interview, her mother reflected that “Kate learned that recycling at the Montgomery County Recycling Center -- with all its mechanical parts and quick hands -- is very complicated. She also learned that our role in everyday life is simple -- just put recyclable items into the right bins.
Beyond the classroom, Kate also showed the video to her church community. She didn't stop there, however. She also organized a recycling drop-off event for her church!
Talkin' Trash Reader W. sent us a set of questions. Very practical questions. The kind which has you standing there with an item in hand, scratching your head, and wondering beyond those basics, "Now what about THIS?" I confess: these are asked in our house, too! With thanks to you, W., here is the first post under a new blog tag titled "the finer points" of recycling (and trash disposal)...
What about the tissue left on empty toilet paper rolls - okay or will it spoil the recycle process?
Please drop those toilet paper rolls right in with your other recyclable paper items. We cannot accept paper towels, napkins, or tissues because we are concerned about receiving ones which have been used for wiping hands, noses, and messes. However, those clean little bits of towel or tissue stuck on paper towel or toilet paper rolls are fine.
Posted as part of our Earth Month 2011 "GoGreen News and Tips" series...
In preparation for Earth Month, we asked for your questions about our work. An email from resident G. inspired this "by the numbers" look at our recycling and trash collection operations:
"How many trash & recycle (separately) trucks are there and how many employees do this amazing work?"
Our contractors send out 107 trucks on each collection day:
52 recycling trucks
27 trash trucks
24 yard trim trucks
4 scrap metal recycling trucks
Each truck has 2 people on it, so there are 214 crew members: 107 drivers and 107 helpers. In addition, there are 15 contractor supervisors and 11 County Inspectors out "in the field" with the crews.
Together, they have the opportunity to make over half a million pickups each week. (Even though not every home puts out every type of eligible material on a given collection day, it still needs to be checked):
Requests for bulk trash and scrap metal recycling pickups, and for new recycling bins are consistently in the top ten service categories for calls coming in to the County's MC311 Customer Service Center.
The error rate across all of our pickup types is remarkably low: about 10 missed collections are reported per week. Our two most important tips:
Have your recyclables and/or trash out at the curb by 7:00 a.m. on your collection day.
When you set out yard trim in trash cans, use our green yard trim decals, and have the decals facing the street for the crews to see.
G. also wrote:
"I'd love a tour and I know my kids would enjoy it as well."
Great! We'd love to see you, too, either virtually or in person:
Yes! Right there at the top of the bin is a... big plastic trash bag!
Even if you collect recyclable items in plastic bags, please put only loose cans, bottles, jars and containers into your blue bin. Then, reuse the bags, recycle them, or if they are dirty, put them into the trash.
Our Recycling Center sorting process works most efficiently when we receive your loose recyclables. When items are delivered in plastic bags, workers must open and remove the bags by hand.
What's unique about the newest recycling and trash trucks used by our contracted hauling companies? They are fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG). In fact, they are the first CNG solid waste collection vehicles in Maryland!
We have 20 CNG trucks on the road right now. They are serving neighborhoods in Bethesda and Silver Spring/Kemp Mill. Our contractors expect to add another 21 CNG trucks to their fleets in Fall 2010.
Why CNG? One of the benefits is that these vehicles create less pollution than conventional diesel-fueled trucks.
Here's a side view of a CNG recycling truck at Montgomery County's Compressed Natural Gas Fueling Station:
Photo credit: G.A. Corrick
Here's the same truck from the rear. It has a "split hopper" design: the left compartment holds commingled recyclables -- the items you set out in your blue bins -- and the right compartment holds mixed paper.
Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day with us at two paper shredding/recycling and household goods/clothing donation collection events!
Here are some of the questions we've been getting:
I am concerned about identity theft. Can I watch my paper be shredded?
Yes, you certainly may watch! In fact, the shredding trucks are equipped with a video camera and monitor. You are welcome to observe the monitor as your paper is fed into the shredder and processed.
What happens to the paper after it's shredded?
All of the shredded paper is recycled.
What paper, and clothing and household items, will you accept?
We have a list of participation/donation guidelines on our Earth Day page. For even more detail, check the website of the organization accepting items at the collection event you want to attend -- our Earth Day page has the links.
When will you have other shredding and donation events in our area?
For now, we have the April 17 and 18 events on our calendar, choosing both a Saturday and a Sunday in two different areas of the County to make participation convenient for as many residents as possible.
Keep an eye on our website for updates. As we plan other events in the future, we'll post the information to our site and blog.
If you want to deliver the material to the Transfer Station yourself because you have larger tree sections or limbs, please be prepared for the possibility of long lines during peak periods on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Transfer Station has evening hours from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. These hours are lightly used and would assure a quick and efficient drop-off.
Residents may bring in as much natural wood waste / yard trim as they want from their own home. The 500 pound limit for the public drop-off facility only applies to trash.
-- posted by Peter Karasik, Chief, Central Operations Section, Division of Solid Waste Services
Normally, you set your recycling bins, paper carts, and trash cans at the curb for pickup.
But, what happens when your curb is buried under a layer -- or, as is currently the case, several feet -- of snow? Suddenly, the term "curbside" becomes relative...
Place your recyclables and trash as close to their regular location as possible. Look at your items through your collection crew's eyes: could you see your bins, carts, and cans from the vantage point of a truck driving along your street? If not, adjust the items' location so that your crew will be able to spot everything easily.
This week, my six-year-old helper and I headed out into our neighborhood with cameras in hand. As we walked around scouting for recyclables and trash, we had a great conversation about the recycling do's and don'ts we saw. (The most frequent offenders were plastic bags -- please remember to recycle these at your local grocery store, and not in your blue bins.)
Here are some photos of three different post-snow recycling bin and cart placement approaches we saw. Sorry, the trash had already been collected, so there were no cans for us to photograph.
This resident shoveled out a little niche in a curbside snowbank. It was perfectly sized to fit the two plastic containers. The container for "overflow" recyclables on the right was neatly labeled, in big letters, with "Recycle".
This blue bin and paper recycling cart were carefully placed in front of a big snow bank, away from parked cars which might have hidden them.
Here, a snow bank was used to creative advantage. This resident perched a recycling bin on top of the snow edging his or her driveway. The bin had just enough snow packed around it to keep it in place, but not enough to obscure it from view.
Can we recycle salted nut canisters (cylindrical paper with metal bottom and metal top rim)?
Thanks for your question, D. Another resident asked us a very similar question a short while later. And, it's one we faced in my own household last month with a coffee can of similar construction -- we stood there in the kitchen, debating the pros and cons of the various disposal and recycling options... So, the topic is ripe for a blog entry!
Our recycling program cannot accept containers made of more than one type of material; so the nut (and coffee and similar) canisters would be a "no" since the metal rim and foil paper would be a contaminant of the mixed paper recycling process.
This post generated several reader responses – thanks!
You asked whether we still accept milk and juice cartons - which may have plastic spouts and lids - or juice and drink boxes. Yes, we do! Please continue to add these to your paper recycling.
The beverage cartons and boxes are recycled using a process called hydropulping. This process is able to separate plastics, such as the plastic spout or lid, from the coated paper fibers. On the other hand, the paper-type canisters can have layers of wrapping and metal which is difficult for paper recyclers to remove. While these containers may look similar, the processes for handling them do vary. Therefore, the canisters are not recyclable in our program.
Some of you suggested creative ways to make the most of your canisters:
“I often have containers that have metal tops and bottoms and a cardboard body. I tend to take pliers to them and rip off the top and bottom and put them in our "metal" bin which we occasionally take to the Transfer Station metal area.” – submitted by M.
“We use these nut containers to pour grease into, then let it harden or refrigerate it and put it into the trash. Keep grease from going down your drain.” – submitted by B.
Does the County pick up yard waste year round or does it stop during the winter? We still have branches and sticks that we would like to put out with our recycle but want to know if the County will pick it up.
On October 24, residents at Manchester Manor Apartments, Tanglewood Apartments, and Sligo Hills Apartments in Silver Spring were treated to on-site paper shredding/recycling and the opportunity to donate clothing and household goods to families in need.
Montgomery County collaborated with Office Paper Systems, A Wider Circle, and the Housing Opportunities Commission to provide these services in the parking areas of these properties.
Montgomery County volunteers and staff also went door-to-door, placing apartment-sized recycling bins and recycling information at the door of every apartment, and replaced the labels and posters at the collection areas to raise resident recycling awareness.
This event was part of the countywide Community Service Day, a day of volunteering to encourage the spirit of giving among county residents.
The Montgomery County Agricultural Fair ended on Saturday, and we've packed our tents, tables, and supplies up for the next event. Here's a short retrospective of our nine days there.
The sign taped to the bus next to our booth was one you don't see every day: “Path MUST be kept cleared – cakes coming thru!” On the Fair's opening Friday, easy passage to the Home Arts Building across the way from us was critical for bakers bearing entries for the cake competition! (Did you have a chance to check out the winners? They looked scrumptious!)
Our recycling tatoos, with a reminder to "Recycle Every Day!", were popular with the younger set. Our teen volunteers enthusiastically offered their application services for on-the-spot tatooing!
Our display of things we accept in our curbside recycling program was a great conversation starter! Thanks for the interesting chats we had about what to put into your blue bins, and... what to keep out. (And about that child's hand holding a yo-yo string... It's a bonus addition to this photo, but a nice opportunity to note that the yo-yos we gave out as prizes were made from recycled content!)
Here's Ana, our tireless Recycling Volunteer Program Manager, who kept track of our staff and volunteer schedule to make sure that our booth was attended at all times, replenished supplies as we ran out, and cheerfully boosted spirits on those hot, humid afternoons.
If you missed us at the Fair, maybe we'll cross paths at one of our upcoming Fall events. Our staff and volunteers look forward to meeting you!
In addition to many exhibits and activities, we'll be offering tours of our Recycling Center -- tour buses arrive / depart 850 Hungerford Drive every 15 minutes.
Our celebration features two special drop-offs for Montgomery County residents!
Have you been saving papers for the next community shred? We will have on-site shredding provided at no charge by Office Paper Systems (limit 3 paper bags or 1 office paper-sized box of paper per person).
And, bring your unwanted jeans and denim clothing for recycling into insulation for houses in areas of need. The denim collection is a partnership between Cotton Incorporated and Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County ReStore, in collaboration with Amicus Green Building Center.
If you'd like us to take your broken bin when we deliver your new bin, just let us know during the ordering process. We send the broken bins we pick up to a recycler.
The bin deliveries and pickups are made by our staff, not the recycling collection crews. Therefore, while your new bin may arrive on your recycling day, it is possible that it will happen on another day.
A friend brought me this warehouse-store-sized plastic tub, made from plastic resin #1. She knew it wasn’t recyclable in our Montgomery County program, but hoped that maybe I’d have a (re)use for it.
I tried, but a few weeks later, it was still gracing the same spot in my office, untouched. Before I tossed it out, though, I had one more thing to do: photograph it for our plastics do’s and don’t gallery.
Are the 1/2 gallon rectangular shaped cartons that milk and orange juice come in recyclable? I just want to do the correct thing.
Thanks for your question, R.! Sorry, our recycling program does not accept milk and juice cartons because they are coated with a thin plastic film. In order to recover the paper fibers, they would need to be separated from this film layer. That's a step most paper recycling processes are not set up to handle. So, please put these cartons into the trash.
What kinds of wrapping paper are recyclable? I specifically wonder about the shiny, metallic paper that my wife likes.
Thanks for your timely question, M.! Metallic and foil papers do create a fine-looking gift presentation! But, as much as I hate to introduce any domestic discontent, please tell your wife (gently!) that we cannot accept foil- or plastic-coated papers for recycling. We accept all other types of gift wrap paper (minus the bows and ribbons!).
In a related question, B. asked:
Can you tell me what can be done with tissue paper?
A note about the photo: that roll of gift wrap is labeled "polywrap". It looks like foil paper but... it's actually a thin plastic film. If you have or receive any of this type of wrap, please dispose of it as trash once you are finished using (and reusing) it; we cannot accept plastic films in our recycling program.
Excited about last night's Winter Storm Watch, my boys were ready. They had their snow pants out, and their boots lined up.
I was ready, too: I had a laptop and cell phone, fully charged and standing by.
As we saw this morning, neither set of preparations was called into play. Still, it was good practice for a future weekday morning on which snow blankets the ground, or ice makes streets too slippery for recycling and trash collection vehicles.
If County-provided recycling or trash collection needed to be delayed or suspended due to weather on such a morning, I'd press that laptop into service as soon as I received the phone call to let me know that there was a collections change. I would update our website, and send a note to our announcement subscribers. You can receive notifications as email, a text message, or as an RSS feed.
You should never throw your cfl bulbs in the regular trash because it contains mercury. It takes just one teaspoon of mercury to contaminate a 20 acre lake forever. It is also illegal to throw them into the trash in many states.
We have identified eight local retail stores which accept residents' CFLs for recycling. That's in addition to the Hazardous Waste drop-off at our Solid Waste Transfer Station and our community Household Hazardous Waste collection events. (Our community events have ended for 2008; we'll post our 2009 schedule as soon as it's announced in the Spring.)
Tip: We provide curbside scrap metal collection for large items at no charge. And, we have a handy shortcut for details about this popular service: www.montgomerycountymd.gov/scrapmetal. If you have smaller amounts of scrap metal, or prefer to transport the metal yourself, use the scrap metal recycling area at our Solid Waste Transfer Station, also at no charge.
Sometimes, people expand that, thinking "if it's metal, it must be ok." And, they drop their metal item into their blue bin.
But, it's not ok. For example, flexible metal conduit bends and pokes when it is intact. And when it unravels, as it inevitably does, it bends, pokes, and wraps around bits of the Recycling Center's sorting machinery all the more. It would make great "hair" for a wild Halloween costume, or for a sculpture. However, please keep it out of blue bins.
Tip: Please recycle flexible metal conduit (and the rigid type, too) by taking it to the scrap metal recycling area at our Solid Waste Transfer Station.
My camera and I recently spent a morning visiting our Recycling Center's Operations Manager. I wanted to find out more about those "thanks, but no" items -- things which residents send to the Recycling Center, but which we cannot accept.
In preparation for my visit, Recycling Center staff had pulled aside a pile of items for me to see. Sporting my borrowed hard hat, I strode out onto the tipping floor with the manager. This is the area in which the recycling trucks which collect material from your blue bins and wheeled paper carts dump, or tip, their contents.
The time passed quickly as we proceeded through our show-and-tell; it was fascinating to hear about the do's and don'ts of Montgomery County's recycling program from the manager's very practical operations perspective. My many questions were answered patiently, and I completely filled my camera's memory card with photos. I look forward to sharing my learnings with you in a series of "Recycling Center Tips" blog entries.
The day of my visit was pleasant and sunny, with few clouds wafting about. It had not rained in several days. Yet, a large puddle covered a section of floor quite a distance from the building entrance. Puzzling... what could possibly have been the source?
When the sorting workers find bottles with water, juice, or soda remaining inside, they pull these bottles aside. When the bottle container is full, it is dumped out on the tipping floor. The front-end loader then runs over the bottles, crushing them, and allowing the liquids to drain out... thus forming the puddle I saw.
The crushed, and now empty, bottles are then put back onto the conveyer belts for sorting.
Tip: please empty beverage bottles before adding them to your blue bin.
Join millions of Americans nationwide in celebrating America Recycles Day on Saturday, November 15, 2008.
America Recycles Day promotes the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling and encourages more people to join the movement toward creating a better natural environment through increased recycling.
We are participating on November 15th by hosting events at multiple locations throughout Montgomery County that will offer paper shredding, clothing and household goods donation, and household hazardous waste collection services for Montgomery County residents only; as well as provide information on reducing, reusing, and recycling waste and buying products made with recycled content.
After finding our blog in a webseach, and reading theseposts about pillow disposal, a blog reader sent me this note:
When I contacted my local animal shelters about old pillows, they told me they cannot take them, as the animals shred them and can accidentally ingest the filling.
Thank you for the opportunity to do a little more research. I contacted two shelters local to our office.
One shelter responded with:
We do accept pillows. We also accept blankets (no wool), comforters, bathroom rugs, towels, beach towels, carpet squares, and mattress pads (no electric blankets).
The other wrote back, noting:
I am not a fan of pillows because the stuffing is usually not good for animals and is hard to clean because of its thickness. We desperately need blankets, towels, and sheets.
So, as is the case with many donation opportunities, check with your prospective recipients to confirm that they are able to use what you wish to give them. Our Use It Again Guide is one resource to help you direct your donations, and we're happy to receive your donations of tips to help us expand the Guide even further.
Our news this summer about being about to recycle more plastics has recycling at the fore in many of your households! One result is that you are requesting lots of blue bins to hold and set out your recyclables for collection.
To help us fill your bin orders, we just received a shipment of 4,000 bins. (That's about 3 parking spaces full.) At the current order rate, this shipment will keep us supplied for about two months.
Do you need a new recycling bin for your single-family home? (We have bins for offices and apartments/condos, also.)
I was looking forward to the arrival of the season's first zucchini, so that I could use it in a batch of Chocolate Zucchini Bread. This past weekend, I got that zucchini, whipped out my recipe, and set to work.
In the process, I used the last of my baking cocoa. Typically, I would have stood there in the kitchen, considering whether I had any possible uses for the empty cocoa container, generally decided that I already had more than enough empty plastic containers awaiting reuse, and then gently placed it into the trash.
This time, I cheerfully rinsed the container and lid, and put them into my recycling bin (after taking this photograph for you!) for collection in our expanded plastics recycling program. And, yes, the bread turned out well also.
You stated in your answer that berry containers can't be recycled because they are polystyrene (#6). However, some, including one I planned to recycle, are PETE (#1). Can these #1 clamshell containers be recycled?
Thanks, S., for the opportunity to clarify this topic further. Sorry, we cannot accept the #1 clamshell containers either. So, in summary: no clamshell containers in your blue bins, please.
On Saturday morning, my family and I went blueberry picking. I noticed that one of the fellow berry-pickers near us was carefully depositing his harvest into... a large, clear clamshell container. There were still lots of blueberries ripening on the bushes, with blackberries available, too, and the promise of raspberries to come! So, there is time yet to refill your own berry containers with some tasty summer goodness before retiring them to the trash.
Thank you for the many questions you've been asking us about our newly expanded plastics recycling program! The program details are new to us, too, and we've been learning a great deal about the finer points of plastics recycling do's and don't ourselves.
We will continue to tweak our plastics guidance to you so that it is easy to use and understand. And, we'll be sharing advice on specific plastic items here in our blog. So, on to our first item...
One of the top questions has been "Can I recycle my strawberry / blueberry / raspberry containers?" Sorry, to the extent that you don't have a reuse for these, please put your clear "clamshell" containers from berries into the trash.
Yes, it is a food-grade container. But, it is made from polystyrene, which we cannot accept in this form. How do you know that it's made from this resin? Look for the "6" on the container.
Cabin John residents recycled 20,284 pounds of scrap metal over the 7-week period from March 1 through April 18, 2008. Congratulations also go to the residents of Carderock Springs, who recycled 13,478 pounds of scrap metal during the Challenge.
The Challenge award, a clock made of reused and recycled metal parts, was given by Eileen Kao, Chief of our Waste Reduction and Recycling Section.
Do you have confidential papers which you'd like to have shredded? Bring a bag with you -- we'll have a collection point for off-site shredding by The Arc of Montgomery County. (Limit: one bag per person)
We find the fact sheets handy for answering many frequently asked questions. If you would like a quantity of any of these fact sheets to distribute to your neighborhood, multi-family tenants, employees, or other group, just let us know!
Here are some of the items we saw on our site visits this week:
They have ranged from the more common...
to the fancier...
and even the ornate...
Remember, this Challenge is a special project accepting a wider range of smaller metal items than we typically collect. Our curbside scrap metal recycling program, available to residents with Montgomery County-provided recycling collection, is for large metal items only.
What happens to cell phones after you take or send them in to be recycled? Why does it matter?
Watch the Secret Life of Cell Phones to learn more about their life cycle, and issues around their recycling and disposal. This short video is part of a detailed website with additional information about environmental, health, and public policy relating to cell phones.
Here's one of the presented findings: "There is enough gold in 200 cell phones to make a gold wedding ring!"
Starting March 1, the communities of Cabin John and Carderock Springs will compete by... recycling scrap metal! The Scrap Metal Recycling Challenge will run for seven weeks, from March 1 through April 18, 2008.
The Challenge will be supported by more than 120 volunteers. We trained them this week, and they are ready to recycle lots of scrap metal!
We'll measure each community's progress by weighing the metal collected from its residents. At the end of the Challenge, we'll compare the weights, and announce the winner.
If you have a regularly overflowing recycling bin, we have a solution for you! It's our recycling can, which boasts a 32-gallon capacity.
How big is a 32-gallon recycling can? This photo compares (from left to right) our wheeled paper recycling cart (65-gallon capacity), regular recycling bin (22-gallon capacity), and the recycling can (32-gallon capacity) you may order on this page.
Convinced that this is the recycling container for you? Dash over to our "web store", and place your order today! We have a limited number of these cans (which come with a lid!), so order yours before we "sell out."
We expect to deliver your 32-gallon can to you within 3 weeks of your order, at no charge.
The bottles and cans are sent to intermediate processors where the materials are cleaned and items such as napkins that may have accompanied the material are removed. This process is similar to removing the paper labels from the containers at these intermediate processing facilities.
So, keep giving us those cans and bottles, even if they have extra items tucked inside! Each can and bottle makes a positive difference towards meeting our County recycling goals.
After weighing in on the scales, the trucks head over to the Yard Trim area.
Look at that big pile of yard trim and trees! See those paper yard trim bags? They will be ground up right along with their contents.
Here is the grinder at work.
The pile of yard trim and trees is in the foreground of this photo; the resulting mulch pile is in the background. With the remainder of the autumn leaves, and now the Christmas trees, in the mix, January and February are excellent times to come and take home some of our mulch.
December 3, 2010: updated paper recycling information
From our mailbag:
Hello! Can I recycle most wrapping paper?
Thank you, D., for this question! The answer is yes.
Please add wrapping paper to your other paper recyclables. There are a few exceptions: if the paper is foil- or plastic-coated, please put it into the trash (or, reuse it, if it's still in good condition). Some wrapping "paper" is actually a thin plastic film; we cannot accept this for recycling either.
Most types of wrapping paper can be recycled along with your other types of recyclable mixed paper. There is an exception: foil wrapping paper, please put it into the trash (or, reuse it, if it's still in good condition). Some wrapping is actually not paper but a thin plastic film; we cannot accept this for recycling either.
What about ribbons and tape? Please remove the ribbons and other decorations from your wrapping paper before adding it to your paper collection. Bits of tape on the paper are fine -- you do not need to remove them.
While a picture tells a thousand words, showing the actual item is even more effective!
Using plastic bags and putting them into recycling containers labeled for commingled materials (aluminum cans and foil products, bi-metal steel/tin cans, glass bottles and jars, and plastic narrow-neck bottles) and mixed paper and cardboard is a common error. (While plastic grocery bags are recyclable, they typically are not acceptable in multi-family or single-family residential recycling programs. However, most local grocery stores in Montgomery County accept plastic shopping bags for recycling, so take them with you the next time you go grocery shopping.)
The program specialists in our multi-family recycling program visit apartments and condominiums daily, checking their recycling programs and efforts, and providing assistance to residents and property managers.
On a recent visit to a property in Bethesda, a program specialist found a plastic bag, emphatically labeled with "No!", to remind residents that these bags should not go into their recycling containers. Kudos to the property managers for displaying our recycling do's and don'ts poster (seen on the left; available in English and Spanish versions), and for supplementing the poster's information with an actual example!
Simply set it out at the curb for collection on your recycling day, starting next Wednesday. Our Christmas tree recycling program will run from Wednesday, December 26, 2007 through Friday, February 1, 2008 for this holiday season. Gone are the days when you need to pack your dry, needle-shedding tree into your car for transport to your closest collection point!
Please give us only your tree -- no lights, no decorations, no wires, no tree stand, and no plastic tree bag. Why? We grind up the trees to create mulch. Larger metal items like tree stands are problems because they can damage the grinding equipment and also become safety hazards. The decorations, plastics, and the like become contaminants in the finished mulch.
Keep reading our blog -- a future post will show you our Christmas tree operations. Unfortunately, what we can't offer you online is the wonderful pine fragrance which accompanies the Christmas tree mulch-making! For that, you'll have to come to the Solid Waste Transfer Station yourself!
"I also had a little luck on Craigslist and a surprising result when I put "donate used vegetable oil" into my search engine: the solid waste department for Montgomery County, Md., has an entire veggie oil exchange listing on their website. Zounds."
Thanks for finding us, Umbra, and for sharing the word about our Vegetable Oil Exchange with your readers!
[The holiday reminder emails are] a great service. I just would like to suggest that next December you advise your subscribers on how to dispose of the cardboard/plastic boxes that many toys come wrapped in. This year, for example, I separated the paper and the plastic parts and put them out separately for recycling. Was this correct?
Thank you, TS, for your compliment about our holiday reminder email service, and for your question. Since it's December again, it's time to pull it out of the file in which I've been safely storing it.
Thank you also for correctly preparing the toy packaging in your household for recycling. To you Gentle Readers in similar situations this holiday season (or at any time), please:
Pull out plastic bags, plastic ties, foam packing, desiccant packets, and other non-paper items from the box.
Dispose of these plastic items (except for the bags) in your regular household trash; you can add the bags to the plastic bag collection at your local grocery store.
What about plastic "windows" in toy boxes? You may leave these on the box when you give it to us for recycling.
Put the empty cardboard boxes together with your other paper recyclables, for pickup on your recycling day.
We checked with our Transfer Station colleagues to see whether it would be accepted there for recycling. And, the answer is... yes, console televisions are accepted for recycling in our new television recycling program.
If you cannot transport the console television to the Transfer Station, and if you receive Montgomery County-provided trash service, then you may request a curbside bulk trash collection for this item. The tradeoff is that while the television would be collected at your curb, it would not be recycled.
Thanks for asking! Confirming the answer gave our Call Center staff and me the opportunity to expand our own knowledge. And, as a result of your question, I have updated our television page to include console televisions. So, dear readers, keep your questions coming!
On most counts, it's easier to be green in Montgomery County than in any of the area's other 13 jurisdictions. It has one of the country's top recycling rates (amount of recyclables collected divided by trash generated), 43 percent, and has strict rules on what must be recycled.
When you recycle the cans, bottles, and jars from your meal preparations, remember to add your fryer oil to that list! Please don't put the oil into your blue bin. :-) Instead, post an oil offer to our new Vegetable Oil Exchange.
Frying vegetables instead of turkey? Of course, your waste oil is heartily welcomed on the Exchange as well.
We invited you... and you came to help us celebrate America Recycles Day last Saturday! Thank you to all who participated. In addition to the staff who worked on this event, we are grateful to our many volunteers, who collectively contributed hours of time in preparing for and then supporting the event's activities.
Rocco, the Recycling Retriever, greeted visitors enthusiastically, with open arms.
We had bags of Leafgro available to folks who stopped at our display in the Town Square.
A staff member put the finishing touches on a display about recycling at apartments and condominiums.
Children industriously created works of art from a variety of "recycled" items.
Do you know what to recycle in Montgomery County? These two volunteers were ready to quiz event visitors!
From the questions we receive, I know that folks wonder whether it really matters whether they save that can, bottle, or jar for recycling, whether they separate their large metal items for special collection, or whether they make the effort to reduce the amount of waste they generate.
Our numbers are in for Fiscal Year 2007, and yes, those seemingly small actions really do matter. In fact, collectively they add up to our having recycled 43.2% of what we in Montgomery County discarded last year. Seen another way, we recycled just over 43 out of every 100 pounds we pitched. Thank you very much for your part in this success! (What's a Fiscal Year? In our case, it is the 12-month time period from July 1 through June 30.)
Earlier this month, I wrote about pillow disposal. Today, I received this note from C., one of our readers:
I suspect that the person's local veterinarian or animal shelter might be glad to get the pillows to use as bedding for needy or sick animals. Go ahead and ask--they might be delighted.
Thanks, C., for this tip! In the solid waste management hierarchy, reuse ranks higher than recycling. And, of course, the possibility of giving old pillows a new lease on life is preferable to throwing them into the trash.
Those large plastic orange bags which look like pumpkins do add a festive touch to Halloween and fall decorations in your yard.
However, our field staff reports that they are seeing "pumpkin bags" set out at the curb, filled with leaves for yard trim collection.
Oops! We'll gladly pick up your bagged leaves... as long as the bag is paper.
What's wrong with plastic bags? The leaves we collect go to our Montgomery County Compost Facility. As machinery turns the compost piles, it grinds up material, including the plastic bags. The resulting plastic snippets are a tremendous problem. Not only do they blow around the facility, but they also need to be fished out of the finished compost.
So, if you use "pumpkin bags" to contain items for collection, please use them for your trash rather than for your leaves.
I have a bunch of bed pillows that have seen better days. I don't want to Freecycle, but was wondering where to recycle them. They are not terrible but, not hygienic enough to pass along
Thanks for your question, P.!
I put the question to the manager of our clothing and textile recycling program. We are able to accept only pillows which are new, and in a bag. So, please dispose of your used pillows in your household trash.
One of the first things about which I caution our Behind the Scenes course participants each year is that they may complete the course with more questions than when they began. No, that’s not a typo – not only might the number of questions increase, but the answers may vary depending on the angle of approach.
Revisiting the paper versus plastic question, for example… Going sans bag, or bringing your own reusable one, comes out on top. But, what if you accept a paper bag at the checkout, and then use that bag to bundle your paper recyclables for collection? Or, what if you need plastic bags to line your trash can, or to clean up after your pet? Could it actually be advisable to take a plastic bag at the store, knowing that you’ll reuse it?
What about single-serving containers? What if the multi-serving size of a product uses less packaging overall? Is that a better option? But, what if you were considering the single-serving package because you’d use it all while it was fresh, versus possibly having some of the product in the larger package spoil before you used it?
If you have a choice of plastic tubs or metal cans, which is better? The metal can would be accepted in our program, while the plastic tub would not. But, what if the product in the metal can is more expensive? Would you still purchase it?
Recyclability aside, does one type of packaging weigh more than the other? How does that affect the transportation costs of the product?
What factors make up your personal criteria for making product and packaging decision - raw material sourcing? energy usage? water usage? transportation costs? disposal and/or recyclability? potential for reuse? others?
May I suggest that one of the blogs address new recycling bins and whom to contact when a new one is needed? I know I am in need of one and would appreciate that information. Thanks very much!
You may request a new recycling bin through our "web store", which is open for your orders 24 hours a day. Our "store" also offers yard trim decals and many other items, including downloadable versions of our brochures, handbooks, and other publications.
If you prefer to place your order by phone, call our Customer Service staff at 240-777-6410.
Thanks for writing in, A. Enjoy your new recycling bin!
The television recycling containers are located next to the fenced computer recycling area:
After just a few days of operation, many boxes have already been filled with televisions! The attendants at the Transfer Station are doing a great job of notifying residents of our new program when they spot televisions in the material those folks are unloading.
To take waste prevention yet another step further, don't buy any new cloth bags until you have first checked at home. Chances are good that you -- or a friend or relative -- already have a bag (or two or three) that would be a great shopping bag.
We are excited about the Exchange, and the opportunity it offers for used vegetable oil to be reused right within our community.
The Exchange creates an electronic meeting place for generators of used vegetable oil, and folks who put that oil back into service, often as fuel for their cars. It's an example of turning "trash" to "treasure!"
This afternoon, the Exchange was featured on WAMU Radio's "Metro Connection" show. Listen to the Metro Connection archive to hear interviews with some local waste vegetable oil generators and users, and to learn about cars fueled by this oil.
If they do not work, please dispose of them as trash or (recyclable!) scrap metal. Depending on the size of your items, and how many you have to dispose of at one time, you may need to schedule a bulk trash collection. For larger items that are more than half metal (like microwaves), schedule a scrap metal recycling collection. Both of these collections must be requested at least one day before your collection day.
Our field staff receives many reports of missing recycling bins, and carts, and trash cans. The missing containers are often found next door or across the street.
The container might have been blown by wind, mistakenly put at a neighbor's curb by the collection crew, or taken in by a neighbor in error.
One simple action can help keep your containers at home: clearly marking them with your house number. Using a black permanent marker is an easy way to do this; stickers or paint are other options. Program Specialist Neil Einhorn suggests writing numbers at least three inches high.
Having your house number on your containers makes it easy to tell where they belong. It also identifies your recycling containers out of the group if you have a common neighborhood collection point.
Make it easy for your containers to find their way home keeps them available for your use. That also allows our field staff to work on resolving other issues for you.
Want higher-resolution copies of these photographs for use in your publication? Just let us know!
If you are interested in exploring -- or expanding -- your own volunteer activities, consider our Recycling Volunteer Program! We offer a variety of volunteer opportunities throughout the year, many on weekends. These include positions for students and adults.
To learn more about our Recycling Volunteer Program, contact Ana Arriaza through our website or at 240-777-6445. Our next volunteer training is Saturday, July 21, 2007, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Rockville.
We'll feature more information about our volunteers and their contributions to us and our community in future blog entries!
The next event in Montgomery County's Save Our Planet series is Saturday, June 30, 2007. Held at the Rockville Library from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., this expo will feature local businesses offering environmentally friendly products and services. We'll be there, too. Visit our table to learn more about our recycling programs.
A few months ago, there were a couple of cans labeled "shoes" near the clothing recycling trailer. They are no longer there. I have continued bagging old shoes and placing them in the trailer. Now, I am wondering if you still accept shoes? What about leather purses? Is it correct to put these in the trailer?
Thanks for your questions, L.
Yes, we continue to accept shoes and purses in our Clothing and Textiles container at the Shady Grove Transfer Station. Please keep shoes in pairs, and put all of your items into a plastic bag to help keep them clean and dry. They will be reused or recycled, depending on their condition.
What happened to the separate shoe cans you saw a few months ago? We were working with an organization that collected only shoes. They shipped the shoes to Honduras. Students there are required to have shoes to go to school. So, the shoes you contributed to this project helped enable children to attend classes.
You've put the plants into your garden. It's time to clean up... can you recycle the plastic flower pots and trays? It's tempting... they've got the recycling arrows on them. But... please don't add them to your recycling bin.
We are able to accept all plastic bottles with necks. What about those pots and trays, then? Gardeners are often happy to take these for use with their own seedlings. Otherwise, please put these items into your household trash.
However, if a plastic bottle has held hazardous contents -- that purple bottle in the photo is labeled "Wasp & Hornet Killer" -- then please put the empty bottle into your household trash as well.
Update, February 15, 2010:Our blog entries are accurate when published. But, our programs do change over time. We now accept flower pots in our plastic recycling program. Please check our plastics recycling webpage for the most current information on this program element.
To dispose of incandescent ("regular") light bulbs, please wrap them in paper, and place them into your regular household trash. (Why put otherwise recyclable paper into the trash? Recycling as much as possible is important, but your safety and the collection crew's safety is even more important. Wrapping the bulb in paper helps prevent injury by containing the glass shards if the bulb breaks.)
To dispose of your compact fluorescent light bulbs, please take them to our Household Hazardous Waste drop-off sites, if this is practical for you. (They contain a small amount of mercury.) If it is not practical, please wrap and put the compact fluorescent bulb into your regular household trash, as you would an incandescent bulb.