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!
This is the third Excellence Award earned by the Recycling Center. Why? We invite you to come by for a first-hand view! See how the trucks which service our County neighborhoods deliver those blue bin materials and paper to our Center, and how these are sorted. Individuals may simply drop in; for group visits, please set up an appointment. Full visit details are on our website.
And, if coming over in person isn't possible, we have an alternate option for you. Our online Recycling Center tour gives you the highlights of our operation.
Whether you have a live or virtual tour, enjoy your visit!
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.
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.
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.
Super! We love folks who want to recycle as much as possible!
Did you know that our recycling drop-off area is actually behind the Transfer Station? There, we accept recyclable paper, plastic, cans, bottles, jars, clothing and textiles, computers and computer-related electronic items, and more! The Transfer Station's hours of operation apply.
So, where is the Recycling Center?
It's located right next to the Solid Waste Transfer Station:
16105 Frederick Rd Derwood, MD 20855
(Both the Transfer Station and the Recycling Center share the same entrance from Frederick Road.)
The Recycling Center welcomes visitors for weekday tours and self-guided visits!