Recycling Partnership Grant to Reduce Residential Recycling Contamination

DPW Press Release

Today, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced that the Baltimore City Department of Public Works has received a $250,000 grant from The Recycling Partnership, a national nonprofit that leverages corporate funding to help cities and states transform their recycling programs.

DPW will use the grant to fund a targeted campaign to educate residents about the items accepted in the City’s curbside recycling and improve the quality of the recycling collected. The campaign will encourage residents to “recycle right,” to decrease the City’s rate of recycling contamination and reduce recycling processing costs. 

“I am confident that this Recycling Partnership grant will be a game-changer for the City’s single-stream recycling program and help us ensure that our residents recycle right,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said. “This grant will make sure DPW has the tools and resources to help our communities improve their recycling habits and subsequently create a healthier environment for all residents of Baltimore City.”

A key part of the City’s recycling outreach will be implementing The Recycling Partnership’s Feet on the Street program, a comprehensive education and outreach strategy that involves City recycling crews and supervisors visiting residents’ recycling containers and providing feedback on how to improve what items make it into the recycling container.

“The Feet on the Street campaign works by giving residents instant feedback on what is and is not recyclable,” said Cody Marshall, Chief Community Strategy Officer at The Recycling Partnership. “Through this tailored feedback loop, we are helping the City of Baltimore capture more quality recyclables that are then transformed into new materials, creating a healthier, more circular economy, a less wasteful planet, and stronger, healthier communities.”

In addition, the grant will help to support outreach, mailers, hangtags and ads. These items will amplify DPW’s message that recyclables should be loose and not in bags and plastic bags and that items with food residue, batteries, and small electronics, and Styrofoam should not be placed in recycling containers.  Many of these materials can cause equipment jams at recycling processing facilities, creating hazards for recycling facility workers.

The City’s residential curbside recycling has an average contamination rate of 24%, with plastic bags and bagged materials being some of the largest contributors to the contamination rate.  The City must pay its recycling processor for the disposal of this contaminated material.

“This grant affects our bottom line.  A reduction in contamination will save the City taxpayers money on recycling processing costs,” Acting DPW Director Matthew Garbark said.


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The Baltimore City Department of Public Works supports the health, environment, and economy of our City and region by cleaning our neighborhoods and waterways and providing its customers with safe drinking water and sustainable energy practices.