Posted by: shoji | November 8, 2007

Simpler recycling schedule in Baltimore

Having lived in Baltimore for many years, I can affirm that its recycling schedule is not user friendly. So it was with joy that I saw the headline for a new, improved recycling schedule (although I no longer reside there).

However, the devil is in the details (fortunately, you don’t have to read any fine print), and this new Baltimore recycling schedule does not improve the situation.

The major change to-be implemented is a single, combined recycling (paper, glass, plastic carted to the curb) to obviate sorting.

I don’t think sorting was limiting the recycling rate. Instead, I think it was not knowing there is recycling and not knowing when recycling is picked up. Unfortunately, this source of frustration with the Baltimore recycling program has not been addressed.

I contend that the better solution is to move to weekly recycling pickup. You see, our lives are built around the idea of week (e.g., weekend) and arranging for a recycling pick up on Wednesday, for example, makes it easy to remember. The every-other-week paradigm that Baltimore will be implementing does not make recycling automatic.

And one last nit: twice per week garbage pickup is wasteful and further erodes efforts for recycling. (From hearsay, there’s something in the Baltimore charter about garbage pickup being required twice per week. If so, let’s change the charter!)

I’m all for the environment, as regular readers of this blog know, however, society needs to design and implement systems that make it easy to do the right thing.

Simpler recycling schedule in store —
Baltimore collects about 12,000 tons of recyclable material a year under a complex schedule that requires residents to put out cans, bottles and certain plastics on the second and fourth Monday of the month and magazines, and newsprint and cardboard on another day, which varies by regions.

Under the new system, residents would dispose of all recyclables on the same day – the day they now put out paper. In Northeast Baltimore, for example, that would be the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. In West and South Baltimore, the material will be collected on the second and fourth Tuesdays.


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