County Recycling Series: Special Event Recycling

With the release of the Governor’s Climate Change Plan and the Composting Workgroup Report last year, recycling and waste diversion are hot topics for the 2014 legislative session. Counties have led efforts to improve recycling in Maryland, funding and expanding dedicated residential recycling programs including drop-off, curbside, and single-stream systems, significantly  increasing overall rates of waste diversion statewide over the past several years.  The next step in improving recycling and waste diversion is reaching the commercial sector, partnering with schools and nonprofits, and targeting specific areas where recycling is needed, like special events.  Anne Arundel County has begun work in all of these areas, thinking outside the box to develop and promote new strategies and find better solutions.

Anne Arundel County’s programs are featured in this blog series not only because of the success of their programs, through which they have already reached a recycling rate of 44%, but also because Anne Arundel County adopted various strategies to improve recycling in different geographies found in their county, including the urban border of Baltimore City, suburban communities, and rural segments of southern Anne Arundel County.  We think that Anne Arundel’s example can help reveal some of the challenges in waste diversion in the varied landscapes found in many of Maryland’s counties.

label for dumpsterIn FY08, Anne Arundel County’s Department of Public Works’ Waste Management Services adopted a goal to increase the curbside residential recycling rate to 50%.  At the time, the County’s recycling rate had been flat for over two years, at 31%. One of the strategies in reaching the County recycling goal of 50% was targeting special event recycling through a program that provides portable, industrial sized recycling containers at event locations completely free of charge to event sponsors. Special event recycling not only improves waste diversion but also addresses the litter issues created by beverage containers.

The event recycling program has been one of the many success stories in Anne Arundel County’s recycling strategy.  According to Recycling Program Manager Richard Bowen, in 2013, the department received eleven event recycling requests.  To accommodate collection of the recyclable material, the events are normally provided with a combination of containers, consisting of 95-gallon carts, 32-gallon containers and 20-cubic yard A-frame dumpsters.special events dumpster

Events that have used the recycling program include the Anne Arundel County Fair, Relay for Life, Kegs and Corks Wine Festival, which are held at the County Fairgrounds.  Others include the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival at Sandy Point and church events including Linthicum Day and the Annapolis Greek Festival.

The amount of recyclables collected depends on the type of even and the duration of the event.  Kegs and Corks generated 1,820 pounds of recyclables, much of which was glass wine bottles.  The multi-day County Fair generated 1,600 pounds of recycling.  A Chamber of Commerce event at Homestead Gardens generated about 640 pounds.  Mr. Bowen reports that in general, highly-attended, weekend events generate somewhere between 1,200 and 2,000 pounds of recycling.

The cost to perform special event recycling is minimal and is normally off set by the revenue generated by the recyclables collected. In Anne Arundel County this year, residents paid annual fees of $298.00, funding a variety of recycling services, as described in detail on the Department’s website.  Additional funding comes from the sale of recyclables and from the $75.00 per ton tipping fee at the county landfill, which is charged primarily to commercial customers.

A special thanks to Anne Arundel County Waste Management Services for providing the information for this article.