Friday, March 29, 2013

Reuse Coffee Grounds and Reduce Your Trash

Nothing like a cuppa joe to...

... make the flowers grow!

Well, I love my cup of coffee in the morning. One of my co-workers suggested that I share my coffee grounds with plants -- especially acid-loving plants like roses, azaleas, blueberry bushes, tomatoes and more! Using coffee or tea grounds is an easy way to compost, and to keep those soil critters happy.

Coffee grounds add minerals, vitamins and nitrogen to the soil. What's the benefit? Vegetables, for example, are then stockier and less prone to insect infestation.

After successfully putting your coffee grounds to beneficial use, you may want to learn more about composting. Read our composting tips, pick up a compost bins at no additional charge, and help your lawn and garden flourish.

It’s nice to know that you can keep sharing a cup of coffee or tea with your friends close to the earth.

-- Jessica Fusillo, Collections Communications

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Back Office

What happens to your MC311 call about trash and recycling collections, scheduling a bulk trash or a scrap metal recycling pickup, or requesting a recycling bin or cart?

An MC311 Customer Service Representative (CSR) receives your information, and enters it into the service request database. The service requests are then sent electronically to our Division of Solid Waste Services Collections Section.  MC311 refers to this work group as "the back office" for Solid Waste service requests.

In the back office, service requests are monitored as they are assigned. Together with two colleagues, Executive Administrative Aide Lina Paz processes your requests. I visited with Lina at her desk.

Join Lina as she tells us more about how your service requests are fulfilled...

Let’s review some of the highlights from my visit with Lina:
  • Recycling bin pickup  –  If you have asked for a bin pickup, please leave your bin at the curb on the Monday following your request. The bin will be picked up during the week.

  • Trash or container pickup – When you request a pickup for a trash can or container, please clearly mark these items with “Trash” or “Pick up”. This helps the collection crew confirm that they are taking the correct items.

  • Collections complaints or missed pickups – Please leave the containers or items at the curb. One of our field staff will be by to inspect and have the items removed.
For other questions about trash or recycling collections, visit our Division of Solid Waste Services website, like us on Facebook, or email me directly.
-- Jessica Fusillo, Collections Communications

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Water, water, everywhere!

I rolled over to check my alarm around 4:30 am on Tuesday morning and decided to get a few more winks. When I awoke again, my alarms were dark. Oh, NO – I leapt from my bed to a dark house. The power was out! Could there have been snow, or perhaps a hard rain?

On the way to the gym at 5:45 am, I heard the news about the water main break. This massive break leaked millions of gallons of water. Are you following my stream of consciousness? Yes, I was reminded about our recycling stream and about the two events our Collections Field Staff attended over the weekend.

At the H20 Summit, participants were given a passport with a variety of questions. Answers were available from the event exhibitors, including us! (Read to the end to learn our answer.)

event passport

Here, Field Staffer Gabe George answered a question and discussed recycling with two participants.

Field Staffer Gabe George speaks with event participants.

After a morning of informational seminars, participants also learned about watershed preservation and storm water management.

Young event participants play watershed game.

Earlier in the day, residents of the Franklin Knolls neighborhood in Silver Spring gathered for a community walk. They were there to learn about a project to build rain gardens at several homes to help the Sligo Creek watershed.

Event sign for Green Streets Community Walk

Field Staffer Joyce Fountain took the opportunity to address walk participants about single family recycling, and the importance of keeping trash out of the recycling stream.

Field Staffer Joyce Fountain speaks with community walk participants.

This brings us full circle to our question about our streams of recycling!

Question: What kind of stream does Montgomery Recycling have? Answer: A dual stream system.

Our dual stream continues to flow with paper and commingled materials. Sound interesting? Learn more about recycling on our website, or by visiting our Recycling Center!

water drop coming out of faucet
Power has returned to my home. And, as we conserve water over the next few days, we’ll become even more aware of how precious every drop of this resource is!

--Jessica Fusillo, Collections Communications

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Following the Stream: Dual Stream Recycling Review

We’ve “bin” reviewing the situation, as Fagan would say.  If you’ve been following our “Talkin’ Trash” blog for the past several weeks, you’ve seen that the Collections Field Staff has been looking into residents’ recycling bins to assess how our “dual stream” of recycling is working.

Let’s take a quick paddle down our streams and check out some of the places where things get a little murky.

stream graphic

One of our streams is for paper. Paper should be bundled, or set out in a cart like this one.

paper recycling cart full with cardboard boxes

The carts are made to hold a lot of paper.  You don’t have to flatten your boxes. But if you do break down the boxes, you can fit much more paper and cardboard into your cart.

box icon

The other stream is for commingled items. That includes cans, bottles, jars, containers, and lids. Paint cans, however, are not recyclable in blue bins…

paint cans in recycling bin

Learn more about how to prepare latex and water-based paints for disposal as trash.  (Metal parts of the paint cans will be recycled.)

bin icon

“It’s a good thing that it wasn’t a windy day!” exclaimed Ron Gilbert, the Collections Staffer who found this open bag of shredded paper.

shredded paper in recycling bin

Shredded paper is a litter wannabe – give a small gust of wind or just the action of tossing it into the truck hopper, and it takes flight.  So, please contain shredded paper in a sealed paper bag or box (no plastic, please!).

What about this?  Well, it is wood, but that wood is treated, so even the remote possibility of categorizing it as “yard trim” is out.  This is simply not recyclable at the curb.  If it’s in reusable condition, taking it to a building material drop-off is an option.

toilet seat in recycling bin

Otherwise… toilet seats (there -- I’ve said it) are trash.  Please put them the curb with your other trash items.

If you have questions about what is recyclable or how to dispose of items – please check out the “How do I dispose/recycle…” section of our website.

Let us know how we can increase recycling in your area.  Our Collections Field Staff is available for presentations or community walks in your neighborhood.  Please email me for more information.

--Jessica Fusillo, Collections Communications

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Snow service update for March 6, 2013

We have cancelled Montgomery County-provided recycling and trash collections today, March 6, 2013. If you normally receive Wednesday recycling or trash service, your items will be picked up on Thursday. Remaining service this week will slide by one day.

Paper recycling cart repairs and pick-ups will still be performed on Friday.

The Shady Grove Transfer Station and Processing Facility is closed today.

If you have any questions or concerns about your County-provided collection, please call the Montgomery County Customer Service Center (MC311) at 311 (out-of-County: 240-777-0311, TTY: 301-251-4850)

If you (or your community) have a private contract for your trash collection, or if you live in a municipality, our schedule announcements may not apply to your trash service -- check with your hauler or community manager.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

The Big Blue CNG Trucks: Keeping their carbon tire tracks clean! - Notes from the Field

carbon footprint icon
One of the things we take for granted out in the field are the recycling collection trucks.  They are new and blue!

As of 2012, Montgomery County's collection contractors must use compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks for their recycling, trash, and yard trim pickups.

Have you noticed the joy of clean air in your neighborhood, free of diesel fumes? CNG trucks are also 50 to 90 percent quieter than diesel trucks. Most of all, running these trucks reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 10 to 15 percent.

The County currently has 105 collection trucks on the roads every day using CNG instead of diesel. Our carbon footprint must have shrunk at least two sizes by now!

In this video, driver Edison Cargeo (whom we met in last week's post on paper recycling carts) gives us a quick tour of his Big Blue CNG recycling truck.

Even the supervisors’ trucks run on natural gas.

Unity Disposal Services, LLC, supervisor truck
close-up of compressed natural gas fuel tank on supervisor truck
Unity Disposal, LLC, Supervisor Rudy Reyes uses his CNG truck to help him monitor the 19 Big Blue trucks in Collection Area 3 as they pick up trash, recycling, and yard trim.

Rudy Reyes, Supervisor, Unity Disposal, LLC, in his truck.
Whether on the streets picking up material, or on display at Truck Days, the CNG Big Blues fascinate admirers of all ages. Edison is happy to explain his truck's functions and features at this event...

Edison and friends admire his truck

Montgomery County’s Collections staff and contractors are the front line in keeping Montgomery County’s residential streets and air clean.

Watch for the Big Blue trucks in your neighborhood!

--Jessica Fusillo, Collections Communications