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Baltimore to distribute free wheeled recycling bins to city residents in $9 million partnership with nonprofit

Baltimore residents will receive free, outdoor recycling bins with wheels in a few months, an initiative intended to encourage more people to recycle while allowing for safer, more efficient collection.

The estimated 200,000 bins — a $9 million program paid for by the city, the Baltimore Civic Fund and the nonprofit Recycling Partnership — will replace the city’s current yellow, non-wheeled recycling bins in May or June, city spokeswoman Sydney Burns said.

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Mayor Brandon M. Scott, a Democrat, said the initiative will “drastically increase” recycling and reduce waste in Baltimore. The new bins are expected to prompt an increase of up to 20,000 tons of recycling per year.

“I am pleased to work and collaborate with The Recycling Partnership and the Baltimore Civic Fund to bring equitable opportunities to recycle to Baltimore,” Scott said in the announcement Thursday. “I am committed to moving Baltimore toward zero waste. The only way we can do that is if we increase the number of households that recycle.”

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The new bins will be slightly smaller but similar to the green, outdoor trash cans Baltimore rolled out to better control the city’s rat population and help prevent sanitation worker injuries during Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration in 2015.

“These carts enable safer and more efficient collection, reducing the amount of manual labor needed, helping to prevent injury to collection staff while providing residents with increased storage capacity for their recyclables at the same time,” the city said in its announcement.

Department of Public Works acting Director Matthew W. Garbark said the initiative will enhance the city’s recycling efforts.

“During the COVID-19 health crisis, the use of recycling carts could potentially increase the amount of material diverted from disposal, and enable safe and efficient collections,” Garbark said in a statement.

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The $3 million grant from The Recycling Partnership is the largest in the nonprofit’s history, said Rob Taylor, the organization’s director of grants and community development. It includes technical advice about the recycling program, educational material and outreach to promote recycling.

The Recycling Partnership’s efforts nationwide are focused on improving people’s ability to recycle and expanding access to recycling to make it more equitable, he said in a statement.

“We are helping Baltimore City capture recyclables that can be transformed into new products, creating a more robust circular economy, a less wasteful planet, and stronger, healthier neighborhoods,” Taylor said.

The Department of Public Works also announced Friday that it is closing its community recycling collection centers, which the city established during a pause in curbside recycling collection. Baltimore suspended curbside collection in August due to staffing shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic and heat. Those services resumed in January.

The community recycling centers, in each of the city’s 14 council districts, will close after Saturday.

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