Wednesday, December 25, 2013 (Christmas Day), and
Wednesday, January 1, 2014 (New Year's Day):
No County-provided recycling or trash collections, and Transfer Station closed, on December 25 and January 1 See holiday details.
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:
February 2011 included some super-windy days. The spring months are sure to bring some more gusty days with them.
I sent out a recycling tip for windy days in our Presidents' Day holiday reminder email. That same afternoon, subscriber Ron wrote back with a tip of his own:
Re your tips for windy days and trash can lids being blown around the neighborhood.
Several years ago I tied my lid to the body of the trash can with a 24 inch length of thin nylon rope.
I have never had to chase down a missing lid since then, including during this past week's strong winds.
You drill a hole in the side of the trash can close to the top; place one end of the rope through that hole and secure it with a knot. The other end of the rope goes through a similar hole in the lid with a knot.
The collection workers don't have a problem emptying the container.
So, it seems to be a win/win situation.
Ron even supplied this photo of his attached lid:
Thank you, Ron! This is indeed a winning solution!
What tips make recycling and trash disposal easier for you? Send them to us, and we'll be happy to share them.
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.
"Today, we had someone in here looking for a diamond watch and ring. Maybe this would be something for the blog..."
Indeed it is! Part of the daily Transfer Station operations includes keeping the various dropoff areas humming, and the trucks unloading. Generally, the material that's brought in is intended to stay there. However, sometimes, valuables mistakenly end up in the trash. When this happens, our Transfer Station staff springs into action.
On that day, it was jewelry that had accidently ended up in the wrong place.
Thankfully, the trash collection truck which serviced the resident's home had not yet come to the Transfer Station to unload. When it arrived, staff pulled it aside, and had the driver unload in a separate area. (If the truck had already unloaded when the resident contacted us, it would have been too late to attempt to find the items.)
We contacted the resident, who then came to begin the hunt for the bag which held the missing items. We provided safety equipment, and assisted as much as possible. This can be very challenging work, especially if the sought-for things are small.
Was there a happy ending? The missing bag was recovered! We were ready to celebrate! However, it turned out that the jewelry was not in the bag after all. The story did ultimately end in victory: the resident called us later to share that the missing items were found behind the dresser. Hooray!
Do not like that the can tops are "stuffed" inside -- but I guess that takes less time that putting them back on. Perhaps the crews should just leave the tops flat on the ground rather than stuffing them inside.
After collection, crews are not supposed to jam lids down into your containers. They are, however, supposed to place the lids back upside down.
Why upside down?
When crews replace the lids upside down, this signals their supervisors that the containers have been emptied. This way, the supervisors don't need to stop at a container, lift the lid, and check inside, which would be very inefficient, given that daily routes cover several hundred addresses, and many more containers.
Similarly, emptied wheeled paper carts are replaced with their handles facing the street, and recycling bins are replaced upside down after being serviced.
And regarding that badly cracked recycling bin in the photo and what to do about it, that's the topic of my next post!
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.
Each weekday, and on Saturdays when we have a "slide" due to a holiday, we have field staff out in your neighborhoods. Their contacts with collection crews and residents, and their own observations as they drive through their assigned areas, help us monitor the recycling and trash materials set out for collection, and the collection service itself.
Last week, the field staff supervisor sent me this note:
Construction Debris: The crews are finding a lot of this in plastic bags. Nails and other sharp objects are cutting the plastic and either creating litter during collection attempts or potentially injuring the collector.
The remedy is to put your construction debris into trash cans when you set this material out for curbside collection. For reference, I have added this information to our trash service details webpage.
Thank you for helping to keep our collection crews -- and yourself! -- safe, and your neighborhood clean of potential litter, when you prepare your construction debris for pickup.
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!
The night before your collection day, you set your trash neatly at the curb to await collection. The next morning, or when you return home at the end of the next day... Ay! There are bits and pieces of your trash strewn all around! What happened?!
Many times, the culprits are... crows! One of my field colleagues reported to me that "the crows are back and making a lot of 'litter before collection'."
What's the solution?
"Containerizing" -- our term for using a rigid container with a tight-fitting lid -- your trash makes it a much greater challenge for crows to reach. And, this also helps keep out raccoons and other critters fond of "dumpster diving" in residential trash. Here are our requirements for trash containers.
Above all, please resist the temptation to simply set out your trash bags without a rigid plastic or metal container around them. It's awfully easy for an inquisitive beak or paw to tear holes into them, and then to start exploring the bags' contents...
One resource for learning more about living with crows is this Urban Crow Fact Sheet, published by the Humane Society of the United States.
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.
This bilingual brochure may not be the next bestseller, but we think it's a pretty handy read. Topics covered include:
weekly curbside trash collection
bulk trash collection
scrap metal recycling collection
Shady Grove Transfer Station hours of operation
claims for loss or damages
a new section on latex paint disposal
Want print copies of this brochure for your neighborhood, homeowners' association, or other group? Just ask, and we'll be happy to supply them.
The fine print: these trash regulations apply to Montgomery County-provided trash service. If you have privately-provided service, please check with your hauler or community manager for your service details. Not sure about who provides your service? Use our Collection Day Lookup to find out, or call our Customer Service staff at 240-777-6410.
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!
Montgomery County residents are welcome to take trash from their homes to the Shady Grove Transfer Station. When you do this, please remember to watch your (load) weight. Residential trash loads must be under 500 pounds.
What if your trash load weighs more?
If your load exceeds this amount, we can accept it Monday through Saturday via the Truck Entrance on Shady Grove Road (it is closed on Sundays). This entrance has vehicle scales to measure your load weight. The fee schedule applies to loads 500 pounds and more, and is prorated for the actual weight of your trash.