The Baltimore recycling program provides residential pickup of paper in many neighborhoods, and cans and bottles in some neighborhoods. The pickups alternate weekly -- paper one week, cans and bottles the next week. To find out whether recyclables are being picked up in your neighborhood, call 396-SORT.
Fells Point harbors some dedicated recyclers.
Not only will they dutifully put their bundled newspapers and cardboard on the street corner, they will chase a trashman down the street or grab recyclable trash from the jaws of certain death -- the trash truck's compactor.
Take the case of Kathleen Hermann. Ms. Hermann had put the recyclables and the regular trash out in two separate piles on Thursday morning and was out walking her dog around 9 a.m. when the trash collectors came by, scooped up the trash and some recyclables with it. She called to the man saying, "Excuse me, that is a recyclable."
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No response. She said she implored him to put it back, saying she knew it was recyclable because her husband had bundled it. She said that the trashman turned to her and said, "Oh, lady."
"He gave me a look like I didn't know what I was talking about," Ms. Hermann said.
Barbara Ruland, manager of the Southeast Community Organization, said another woman, who tried to unload her newspapers at the community center, told her she just retrieved the papers from the back of the garbage truck.
Since the city began curbside collection of recyclable paper in Southeast Baltimore this month, residents say many of their neighbors don't know that recycling has started or they don't understand the city's brochures and they are confused about what gets collected when.
"Nobody knows what the hell is going on," she said.
The city's public works director, George Balog, said that such confusion is natural, given that the recycling program is just getting off the ground. "We have 233,000 households that just started. I think there is going to be a little confusion. Give me some time to get it straightened out," he said.
Trash collectors have been told the difference between recyclables and real trash, he said, but it would be helpful if Baltimore residents would only put out recyclables on the second day the trash is collected each week. Eventually, the city will only collect recyclables on the second trash day of each week. But city officials believed that it would take time for residents to get used to the system so they have continued to send two trucks around to collect both regular trash and recyclables on the second collection day.
Canton, Highlandtown and Butchers Hill also are having communication problems.
Marie A. Francfort of Butchers Hill said she was unaware that the city had begun curbside recycling of paper for a few weeks. And when she got the word, she said, it was difficult to understand. Her neighbors, she said, "are equally confused."
Mr. Balog said that the city is attempting to circulate information about collection days and what to recycle through an advertising campaign that will begin soon.