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Baltimore City offers free business recycling

It's America Recycles Day, so listen up: The secret’s out about a little-known municipal service offered to Baltimore City businesses - free and practically unlimited single-stream recycling.

“The key advantage to business single-stream recycling is that firms can eliminate up to 50 percent of their trash costs when they shift from costly garbage collection to free recycling,” according to Robert Murrow, Baltimore City’s recycling coordinator.

Though the Department of Public Works web site appears to limit free recycling to  "small businesses in residential areas," Murrow said in reality the city will pick up recyclables for free from businesses of all sizes, no matter where they are.

Those firms generating enough recyclables to regularly fill a dumpster or in need of more than once-weekly collection can arrange that with the department, he said.  As a practical matter, DPW draws the line at picking up more than three times a week, he added, so any establishments needing that much service ought to hire a private processor. DPW's web site has a handy list.

“At first I was skeptical,” said John Groh, the Baltimore Country Club’s Director of Engineering. Yet Baltimore city’s recycling pickups have gone smoothly. Free recycling also gave the Baltimore Country Club the motivation to expand our recycling efforts.”

 Single-stream’s list of acceptable items is so extensive, there’s not much left to trash.

A hidden benefit to business recycling is improved customer loyalty.  Recycling is a signal to customers and employees that the environment matters, and many clients appreciate recycling efforts. 

So, consider the role of ‘recycling advocate’ and spread the word to your office or favorite establishment that free business recycling is now available.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Call Baltimore City’s recycling office at 410-396-4511 to enroll.
  2. Buy one or more sturdy, 32-gallon recycling containers with wheels.
  3. Train your staff on how to separate trash from recycling.
  4. Educate staff that recycling is picked up for free while trash disposal costs cash. 
  5. Create laminated signs with pictures that explain how to separate recycling from trash.  Check out this terrific one-pager with pictures, courtesy Baltimore City.
  6. Consider launching a contest (gift cards, cash, a day off) when recycling goals are achieved.

 Business recycling best practices:

  •     Recycling bins must be placed next to every trash can. If recycling and trash containers aren’t side-by-side, people assume that no recycling is available.
  •     The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words holds true in recycling. When putting out recycling bins, post signs by them with pictures, rather than a printed list. People tend to ignore lots of words (sigh!).
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