Recycling Carts
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Baltimore to modernize recycling collection program

The project advances safer, more efficient and equitable recycling access for 200,000 Baltimore households.

October 4, 2021

The city of Baltimore plans to deliver 200,000 curbside recycling carts to residents in the city and to launch a recycling education campaign to inform the public about the new carts and what can and cannot be recycled. The city has received investments for these carts and the education campaign from The Recycling Partnership, the American Beverage Association and Closed Loop Partners. The project also received a plastic resin donation from Dow for the recycling carts, lidded rollout recycling carts manufactured by Rehrig Pacific and support from the Baltimore Civic Fund.

According to a news release from The Recycling Partnership, this more than $10 million project is estimated to increase recycling output per household by 80 percent and generate as much as 40 million pounds of new recyclables each year. The program will also help collect and recycle 30 million new pounds of plastic over 10 years, including 16 million pounds of polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

The public-private initiative includes a $3.6 million investment from The Recycling Partnership, Falls Church, Virginia, as well as $1.65 million from the American Beverage Association’s Every Bottle Back initiative. The recycling program also received a $3 million investment from New York-based Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Fund, which finances projects that grow and strengthen recycling and circular economy infrastructure in the United States. 

This collaboration will help Baltimore provide free, larger recycling carts to 200,000 households to collect and process more recyclable materials, including beverage bottles and cans.

“Making Baltimore more sustainable through diverting waste from our landfills and incineration is key as we lay the groundwork for future generations,” says Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “By providing our residents with the proper resources and education thanks to this partnership, I know that more Baltimore households will do their part to reduce waste and recycle.”  

“This marks a significant milestone in our collective work with the city of Baltimore and other key stakeholders, proving what is made possible through meaningful collaboration,” says Ron Gonen, founder and CEO of Closed Loop Partners. “Strengthening the city’s local recycling system lays the groundwork for improved recycling rates, and ultimately, reduces the number of valuable materials going to landfill or into nature.”

The city says its transition to automated recycling collection enables safer and more efficient collection efforts. It also reduces manual labor, prevents injury to collection staff and ensures continuity of service during labor shortages.

The city says the delivery of free recycling carts is one of the key recommendations in the city’s Less Waste, Better Baltimore Plan. The initiative identified options for improving solid waste diversion, recycling and disposal. 

“The Department of Public Works is excited to support this new initiative to increase recycling and waste diversion in Baltimore city,” says Baltimore Jason W. Mitchell, director of Baltimore’s Department of Public Works. 

The Recycling Partnership’s recent Paying It Forward report shows that 40 percent of Americans don’t have equitable access to recycling. The partnership says this project’s solution will help to close that gap for Baltimore, which is currently the eighth-largest city in the U.S. without universal cart recycling access.

“This collaboration will be a critical step in creating a more sustainable and circular community in Baltimore,” says Diego Donoso, president of Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics. “I hope this project is just the beginning of future collaborations to bring improved recycling infrastructure across this country.” 

Baltimore says it expects the delivery of recycling carts to be completed in early 2022.