Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz recently kicked off a new residential recycling marketing campaign designed to get county residents to recycle more.
"In 2011, we collected more than 51,300 tons of material for recycling from county residents," Kamenetz said in a statement. "This is an all-time county record and a 42 percent increase from 2009. That's a huge improvement, but I think we can still do better."
In addition to the environmental benefits of recycling reusable materials, the county also saves considerable money by keeping recyclables out of landfills.
In 2011, for example, county residents recycled about 15 percent of the material put out for collection, which saved the county about $2.7 million in disposal costs, according to the statement.
Kamenetz's goal is to have the county reach a recycling rate of 50 percent—which would save about $9 million—and noted no community has come close to achieving that goal.
Across the county, the recycling rate ranges from a low of 4 percent in southern Essex to 30 percent in the Ruxton-Brooklandville area, according to the statement.
To encourage better participation in the county's recycling program, county officials have created BCRecycles.com, a web page to track recycling efforts by geographic area.
The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness and to encourage neighborhoods to do better, according to Charles Reighart, Baltimore County's manager of recycling and waste prevention.
"We're not trying to foster a competition, but if neighborhoods want to take pride in the job they're doing, that's great," Reighart said Tuesday. "But no matter what community they live in, there's plenty of room for improvement — we're just trying to raise awareness."
For reporting purposes, Bureau of Solid Waste management staff members have divided the county into 44 areas. The website lists the overall recycling rate for 2011 for each of the areas, plus monthly rates for the first four months of this year.
In 2011, Greater Dundalk communities had recycling rates ranging from 6.9 percent in the Eastpoint, Berkshire and Gray Manor neighborhoods to 10.1 percent on the North Point peninsula, according to the website.
Rates are trending upward in the first four months of this year, ranging from 9.7 percent in Dundalk to 12.4 percent on the peninsula. The Eastpoint, Berkshire and Gray Manor rate increased to 11.5 percent in April.
The recycling rate is determined by dividing the weight of single stream recyclables by the total amount of single stream recyclables plus trash put out for collection.
Yard materials (grass, leaves and brush) collected separately from trash are not included when calculating the recycling rate, according to the website.
The overall county recycling rate for 2011 was 14.8 percent, according to the tables.
The county collected 47,883 tons of curbside recyclables and 276,264 tons of trash for the year. Residents brought several thousand tons of recyclables to drop-off centers.
Recycling is up throughout the county for the first four months of 2012, with rates ranging from 17.2 percent in January to 15.6 percent in February. Rates in March and April were 16.0 percent and 16.3 percent, respectively.
"We encourage residents to spread the word about this new recycling campaign to neighbors, friends, and relatives in Baltimore County," Reighart said in the statement. "Improving the recycling rate is a community-by-community and countywide effort, and everyone can make a difference."
In addition to viewing their area's recycling rate information at bcrecycles.com, residents can also find collection schedules, program guides and other information.
Questions about the County's recycling program can be directed to the Bureau of Solid Waste Management's customer service line at 410-887-2000.