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by Fern Shen12:05 pmJan 12, 20220

Amid chronic service disruptions, Baltimore moves to bi-weekly recycling

DPW says reduced service schedule will bring “predictability” to routes missed because of Covid-related staffing shortages

Above: DPW says staffing issues, Covid-19 infections and bad weather are behind the recycling piling up in recent weeks in Baltimore. (Fern Shen)

Following widespread delays in recycling service, Baltimore is moving next week to bi-weekly collections for recycling, using an alternating A and B cycle system for curbside collection services.

The new schedule, beginning January 18, is “designed to bring stability and predictability to routes impacted by delays in recent weeks,” Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Jason W. Mitchell said in a statement released today.

Under the plan, recyclable materials will be picked up every other week, with the city divided into two service areas:

Northeast and Northwest (north of North Avenue) neighborhoods will be on Week A of the alternating schedule, which will start on January 18-21. Their following collection will be the week of February 1-4.

Southeast and Southwest
(south of North Avenue) will be on Week B of the alternating schedule, which will start on January 25-28. Their following collection will be the week of February 8-11.

Residents’ recycling day will not change with these modifications, under the plan.

“For example, if a resident’s typical recycling collection day is Thursday, it will remain on Thursday with this new schedule, and collections will occur bi-weekly,” the DPW release said.

Residents can refer to a new online map to find out their recycling day and whether the address is on the A or B cycle.

This revised schedule, which does not impact weekly trash collections, “will remain in effect until further notice,” DPW’s release said.

Covid-19, Winter Weather

The administration of Mayor Brandon Scott has been fielding complaints for weeks from residents and City Council representatives about uncollected recycling accumulating on streets and in alleys.

DPW has said the disruptions are the result of staffing challenges worsened by the recent spike in Covid-19 cases, as well as winter weather issues.

“Solid Waste operations across the country in large and small municipalities are experiencing similar challenges,” DPW said today. “Many of these jurisdictions have shut down their curbside recycling collections completely.”

Over a seven-day period during the holidays, DPW averaged 228 employees out of work, with a peak of 340 employees out during that period.

Residents were encouraged to use one of the city’s five residential drop-off centers:

• Northwest Transfer Station, 5030 Reisterstown Road.
• Quarantine Road Landfill, 6100 Quarantine Road.
• Northwest Residential Drop-off Center, 2840 Sisson Street.
• Southwestern Residential Drop-off Center, 701 Reedbird Avenue.
• Eastern Residential Drop-off Center, 6101 Bowleys Lane.

The reduced collection schedule, the agency noted, does not mean DPW is moving away from “Mayor Scott’s vision of moving Baltimore toward a zero waste.”

“DPW remains committed to bringing equitable recycling options to Baltimore households. Today, DPW has delivered over 131,000 recycling carts (65-gallon) to city households,” the release proclaimed.

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