Recycle kerfuffle

December 19, 2007

Baltimore's bid to boost once-a-week recycling produced long lines, chilly complaints - and an unexpected run on the yellow plastic bins. And they weren't even giving them away.

The turnout suggests robust interest in the city's move to a single pickup of recyclables, but that has gotten lost in the post-bin critiques. We're not being apologists for the Dixon administration, just realists. When the city ordered 10,000 new bins, it didn't pluck the figure out of the air. It was based on the current number of recycling households - 48,000 of the city's 210,000 - and an estimate of potential newcomers. Until this past weekend, the city had previously given out no more than 2,000 bins in one shot, officials say. Add to that the cost of bins ($6 and $5) and who would have expected demand to exceed supply on a frigid December day?

Standing out in the cold wasn't fun, and frustrating probably doesn't begin to describe how the empty-handed must have felt after the fiasco.

But in a city that disposes of 750 tons of trash a day, the public's enthusiasm for the Jan. 8 start of streamlined recycling should be applauded - and the rain-check bins delivered with a smile.

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