Charm City can feel a little better about itself today. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) released its final recycling report for 2011 (not sure why the numbers lag a year) and Baltimore’s recycling rate has increased by almost a full percentage point — from 27.01 percent in 2010 to 27.89 percent in 2011.
Overall in the city, 203,809 tons of Maryland Recycling Act (MRA) recyclables — paper, plastics, glass, steel and aluminum cans among other items — were collected from residents, businesses and institutions, according to a press release Monday from the City Department of Public Works. Only MRA recyclables are used in calculating the City’s recycling rate.
Additionally, Baltimore City recycled 252,191 tons of construction materials, oils and scrap metals — items not figured in calculating the city’s recycling rate.
Passed in 1988, the Maryland Recycling Act mandated a 15 percent recycling rate for counties with populations of less than 150,000 and 20 percent recycling rate for counties with a population greater than 150,000.
Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation mandating “that counties with a population less than 150,000 to recycle 20 percent of their waste while counties with a population greater than 150,000 must recycle 35 percent of their waste” by the end of 2015.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. recycling rates overall have been slowly increasing, but remain far below their potential. As of 2009, for example, San Francisco recycled 72 percent of its waste, according to one study.
To increase recycling, the Baltimore City Department of Public Works has begun the “Drive to 35” campaign.
As part of that promoting that effort, the Department of Public Works will host an art exhibition, Salvage, from March 22 to May 22, at the Baltimore Public Works Museum at 751 Eastern Ave.