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.
Our colleagues in Highway Operations are posting leaf collection updates to their website to keep residents up-to-date about crews' progress.
In neighborhoods receiving leaf vacuuming, crews post signs a few days in advance of each leaf collection. Crews do their best to meet their planned schedules. However, Mother Nature can and does pose challenges to them. For example, yesterday's snow meant that some of the leafing equipment was put on "snow duty." And, when that snow melts, the wet leaves will be more difficult to vacuum than dry leaves.
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.