Revenue from commingled recyclables like this resident's juice box is up 98% over last year, when the Baltimore Public Works Department sold only paper. Photo: Steven Cuffie
Since January, when residents of the nation's 20th-largest city stopped separating paper from bottles, jars, and cans, recycling tonnage is up almost 20%.
Through June, the city recycled 6,901 tons versus 5,792 tons in the first six months of 2007. The public works department used to collect recyclables on two different days, but now residents throw everything—narrow-neck and screw-top plastic bottles (with symbols 1 through 7 on them), glass bottles and jars, aluminum, tin and steel food and beverage containers, mixed paper, and cardboard—into one bin that's emptied in a single collection.
Part of the program's success was the department's outreach effort. Recycling by other city agencies has increased from 30 locations to 115; special business collection locations are up from 37 to 106; public school locations have gone from 40 to 103; and private schools are up from 19 to 27.