DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS: INCREASE RECYCLING & SOURCE REDUCTION

15-C
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS:
INCREASE RECYCLING & SOURCE REDUCTION
Problem Identification:
The City lags behind certain surrounding counties in converting consumer waste to recyclables or diverting waste altogether. Recycling collections represent only 8 percent of total tonnage from residential sources.

Recommended Action:
Initiate an aggressive citywide recycling initiative focused on consumer waste, endorse ‘reuse’ as a desirable strategy, and participate more actively in regional recycling initiatives.

Classification:
Cost Savings, Revenue Enhancement, Service Improvement

Functional/Operational Area:
Bureau of Solid Waste

Estimated Annual Impact:
$800,000

Estimated Implementation Costs:
Minimal staffing cost that could probably be absorbed within existing budgets (Baltimore County spends less than $50,000 a year). There should be no impact on recycling collection costs as there is excess capacity in the Bureau’s operations.

Barriers to Implementation:
The willingness of residents to participate more heavily in recycling and of the Bureau to increase participation in regional recycling activities.

Projected Implementation:
1 year

Next Steps:
Investigate pooling promotional resources with other regional jurisdictions to have a coordinated residential recycling and source reduction education/promotion program throughout the Greater Baltimore media market.

Analysis:
Increasing the portion of residential waste that is recycled would benefit the City in two ways. First, there is excess capacity in the residential recycling collection operation. Currently, residential recycling collection operation accounts for approximately 20 percent of the residential routes, but only 8 percent of the tonnage collected. Second, to the extent that materials that would otherwise go to BRESCO are recycled, the City saves the tipping fee at BRESCO ($36 per ton). Based on current BRESCO rates, if recycling collections doubled from the current level (22,500 tons per year) to 16 percent of tonnage collected, the annual savings would approximate $800,000.

The project team believes that implementation of a 1+1 mixed refuse collection plan (see Recommendation 6-A) would encourage/cause residents to make greater use of the weekly recycling collection. This would help ensure that the City realizes the benefits of increased residential recycling.

Finally, several regional initiatives exist that the City can become more involved in, including the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority and Maryland Recyclers Coalition. Through active collaboration with these organizations, the City could increase recycling-related revenues through cooperative sales and participate in benchmarking improvement projects.