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Councilman calls for fines against DPW, claims bi-weekly recycling pickup violates City Code

City rolls out new recycling carts in East Baltimore
Posted at 11:06 AM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 12:01:02-04

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City Councilman Isaac Schleifer says the Department of Public Works is failing to keep up with residential recycling pickup.

Schleifer is calling for penalties to be levied against the agency for what he calls a "blatant violation of the Baltimore City Code."

The Councilman says bi-weekly curbside recycling collection is causing "increased trash, and creating an unfair burden on the solid waste workers who are now forced to collect double the amount of materials for the every other week collection day."

As result, Schleifer says those workers are "subjected to working longer hours," which they are not "adequately" being compensated for.

He says this is a double standard because City taxpayers are forced to pay fines when leaving trash and/or recycling on their property, which according to the Councilman often happens when Public Works misses collections.

"The violation of the city code by DPW goes unpunished, yet the consequence and burden on our residents of DPW in violating the city code results in financial penalties," said Schleifer.

Currently, Public Works collects recycling on a bi-weekly basis. According to Article 23 of the City Code under Subtitle 1, collections are supposed to occur weekly.

"The city code is clear. The director of DPW is required by city code/law to pick up recycling once a week," said Schleifer. "For the majority of Director Mitchell’s tenure, this has not happened. The city code doesn’t yet state a penalty for violating this code."

In response, DPW said Monday that it was their goal to resume weekly recycling "as soon as possible."

However they added those services could not be restarted until they could be "performed safely, effectively, timely, and equitably; that is, with fully trained workers, without delays, and throughout the entire City."

As for all other solid waste pickup, the department said it was aiming to restore those services to pre-pandemic levels by the end of July.

Just last month DPW Director Jason W. Mitchell issued a statement claiming that the switch to bi-weekly pickup brought "stability to Solid Waste Operations," allowing those solid waste workers that Schleifer mentioned to "collect 100 percent of the recyclables placed curbside."

“The temporary change to bi-weekly recycling collections has helped the Department manage recycling collections for the short-term and to better support solid waste services impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mitchell said May 16.

At the time, Mitchell said that DPW has delivered over 170,000 - 65 gallon lidded recycling carts to City households for recycling.