Friday, April 29, 2005

Blue Carts: Hold the bin

What to do with a now-surplus recycling bin?

Back in the day, you requested a second blue bin from us to hold your paper bundles. With that paper now going into your wheeled blue cart, your second bin may no longer be needed.

We are happy to take the bin back. Just call us (240-777-6410) or write to us to let us know. (Please remember to give us your address.) Then, leave the bin outside your house in a place where our Bin Picker-Upper will see it when he comes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Blue Carts: More on handles

Once your wheeled paper recycling cart has been emptied, the direction of the handle does matter.

After they have serviced the cart to remove the paper inside it, collection crews are asked to put the cart back at the curb with the handle facing the street. This signal lets their supervisor and Division of Solid Waste Services' field staff know that the cart is now empty.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Blue Carts: Handle in or handle out?

Does it matter how you set your wheeled cart at the curb?

Simply put: no, but thanks for asking!

Whether you set your cart at the curb with the handle facing the street, the handle facing your house, or even sideways ~ the cart orientation doesn't matter for our crews. Ours is a semi-automated system: the carts are manually wheeled to the truck, and then a lift on the truck tips the cart contents into the truck. The cart is then wheeled back to the curb.

If the lifting were fully automated, then the placement would be very important: the lift bar on the front of the carts has to face the street so that the lift arm can hook onto it.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Blue Carts: Why so blue?

The wheeled carts are blue. Very blue. Eye-catchingly blue. Extremely blue, for some of you. Couldn't we have picked a more subtle color?!

The choice of blue for the carts is in keeping with the color widely associated with recycling of cans, bottles, jars, and paper. The color is as much a signal for collection crews of what is inside as it is to container users.

The darker colors -- brown, green, and black -- are typically used for trash cans. When used as a signal for collection purposes, green may indicate yard trim. Similarly, brown may be associated with organics collection.

These signals make collections more efficient. Instead of having to stop to peer into every single can at the curb, crews are able to focus only on the containers set out for the material for which they are responsible. The recycling crew is on the lookout for blue carts. Trash crews, on the other hand, know to pass those carts by.

One cart recipient carefully painted the cart green. It was a good paint job. It was so good, in fact, that the recycling crew would have passed it by, leaving the household to wonder why its paper was not collected that week. The unsuspecting recycling crew, on the other hand, would have thought nothing of leaving the paper-cart-posing-as-a-trash-can unemptied.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Blue Carts: Mechanically lifted

Paper cart lift on recycling truck

Because wheeled carts full of paper can so heavy (over 200 pounds!), some residents have been worried the safety of their collection crew's backs.

The actual dumping of the carts' contents is done by lifts. The crew puts the cart in to position, hooks on the lift, and then the lift tips the cart into the hopper.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Hold the confetti!

We're excited about paper recycling, though we hold the line on celebrating with confetti. That's what shredded paper has a tendency to become when it is set out for recycling...

With April 15th's tax filing now behind us, it's a good time to revisit the issue of document security and disposal. To help thwart identity thieves and others interested in your personal facts and figures, many people shred papers before setting them out for recycling. (In my household, paper in our wheeled paper recycling cart often resembles Swiss cheese after we get done snipping out address labels here and names and numbers there! We regularly compost our shreds as well -- there's no better document destruction system than a bunch of worms and their pals, and our garden reaps the benefits of their final product.)

If you have a wheeled paper recycling cart, just dump your shredded paper into it -- no additional packaging is required!

If you continue to set out your to-be-recycled paper in bundles, please put your shredded paper into a small paper bag or cardboard box. That helps prevent it from blowing around in your neighborhood as it awaits collection... and avoids creating confetti on your street.

Friday, April 15, 2005

With paint, please litter!

... with cat litter.

It is extremely expensive for us to dispose of latex paint in our Household Hazardous Waste Program. In fact, latex paint is not hazardous. Our recommendation is to "use it up, pass it on, or dry it out". Once dry, you can put cans into your regular household trash.

Cat litter is a very effective and inexpensive way to dry up paint. Mulch and shredded paper work as well. And, Waste Paint Hardener, available at McCormick Paints stores and most area hardware stores is another option.

Latex paint is the featured topic in this month's Newsletter Helper. You are welcome to use this text in your own community publications.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Duct tape only goes so far

We've seen just about every kind of blue bin repair there is. Duct tape can be used very creatively to cobble a bin back together. There comes a time, however, when it's simply time to request a replacement.

Replacement recycling bins for single-family homes and townhouses are available at no charge, and we even deliver them to your door. Order online, or call our Customer Service staff at 240-777-6410.

Let us know to pickup your old, broken bin. We'll whisk it away when we bring the new one. The broken bins are recycled.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Dream Design for Calendar

We're drafting ideas for new information pieces, which we want to make as user-friendly as possible...

What features do you wish for in a calendar? For example, one of my mother's Calendar Choosing Criteria is the largest possible squares for each day. Her life is rich in scheduled commitments, and she wants to make sure she's got enough space to write them all down without needing to cram them in. So, for Mom, we're maximizing those squares as best we can!

What calendar features make your life easier? Let us know!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Mulch it up!

Come early, come often... and bring a shovel or pitchfork with you. Our Neighborhood Mulch Preserves stock coarse mulch, available to you for free. This mulch is good for covering paths and similar areas.

Because the mulch is "green," or fresh and uncured, it is not suitable for use around your prized petunias (or other similar plants). The material is carbon-rich. As it decomposes, it creates a nitrogen demand. When that demand competes with the nitrogen needs of your plants, well, the plants tend to lose the battle. If you have the space in your yard to let the mulch age for a few months, this issue is eliminated.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Celebrate Earth Day with us!

Join us in celebrating Earth Day on Saturday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. In addition to displays, activities, and entertainment here, we'll be running buses to the Recycling Center. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to see the Recycling Center on a weekend day! This Earth Day event will also feature two rain barrel workshops.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Blue Roadblock

You've had a long day at work. Traffic on the street where you live is heavy. It's raining, and it's dark. Your driveway is blocked. Again. Your blue bin is sitting squarely in your car's path...

Can't they get it right?! That bin was set neatly at the side of the driveway when you left this morning...

Having to move an errant bin out of the way isn't our idea of a pleasant return home either. The policy is that bins must be returned to the "point of collection" after the collection crew empties them. In other words, you should find it in the same place where you left it in the morning.

If the "point of collection" policy doesn't ring true at your address, tell us. Our staff will then work with the collection company serving your neighborhood. They'll also keep a special watch on your bin for a few weeks.