Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What happens when your paper recycling cart is damaged?

Let’s face it. Recycling containers get a workout. Your paper recycling cart may develop a broken
  • lid
  • lift bar
  • wheel, or
  • body
What happens next? Call Montgomery County's Customer Service Center at 311 (out-of-County: 240-777-0311, TTY: 301-251-4850) for a repair. Our Customer Service staff will schedule a Thursday appointment with you.

If we receive your request before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, we can add you to our list for that week. Otherwise, we'll give you an appointment for Thursday of the next week.

What’s special about carts and Thursdays? It’s our cart repair day! If the problem(s) can be fixed, we’ll do that. And, if the cart is beyond repair, we’ll give you a replacement.

We ask you to set your cart at the curb empty. This allows our staff to work on your cart easily. A full cart can weigh over 200 pounds, which is why recycling collection vehicles have a mechanical lift to empty them. Our cart-repairers do not have lifts or the truck they would need to transport any paper they took with them.

When arriving at your address, we first assess the “patient.” This cart has two problems. Can you spot them?
Checking cart to identify the problems needing repair
Photo credit: R. Birndorf
After the diagnosis, surgery begins!
Tools and repair supplies on truck gate
Photo credit: R. Birndorf
First, the team gives the lid hinge a new pin.
Inserting new hinge pin
Photo credit: R. Birndorf
The mechanical lift hooks on to the metal bar on the front of the cart. Remember how heavy those full carts can be? Sometimes, the lift bar simply starts to give. Here, it’s swapped out for a new, straight bar.
Removing bent lift bar from paper recycling cart
Photo credit: J. Buhl
Voila! This cart is good as new, ready to receive many more pounds of paper from its owners!
Repaired paper recycling cart
Photo credit: J. Buhl


  1. Anonymous4:57 PM

    it would be very convenient to be able to schedule this repair on line, versus calling 311...

  2. Anonymous3:43 PM

    Being able to schedule a repair online or by leaving a message at 311 would be beneficial.

  3. Anonymous10:21 AM

    Keep getting annoying blow off message that service is unavailable.

    1. Sorry to learn that you've had trouble getting through to MC311! I believe you contacted us another way just after leaving this note; we have followed up on that contact.

  4. Anonymous11:36 PM

    An online appointment request would be great. Inconvenient to call during the day.

  5. Anonymous7:42 PM

    I am disappointed I could not get my call through after work. I should be able to leave a message or create a service request that way.
    By the way, if the trash collectors break them, why can't they request a repair? The lid was broken 2 separate times by the trash collectors.

    1. Anonymous12:26 PM

      Makes no sense for the collection team to request a repair since they cannot ensure the resident will make the cart available on the subsequent repair day. But I do agree that it would be better to do online requests.


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