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The Maryland Curiosity Bureau

What happens to Baltimore's recycling?

recycling truck
A Baltimore recycling truck dumps its contents at Northwest Transfer Station (photo credit: Aaron Henkin / WYPR)

After you set that recycling on your curb, it’s got a long and winding road ahead. This episode, we follow the trail and learn some surprising facts along the way, like: What percent of Baltimoreans actually recycle? How much of what we throw in the bins is in fact recyclable? What do oil prices and geopolitics have to do with the price of recyclables? And can you recycle a bowling ball?

Here's Baltimore's Single Stream Recycling Guide.

And here's a video that shows what happens once recyclables end up at the WM Materials Recovery Facility in Elkridge, Maryland.

Dondre Grey
Dondre Grey, a heavy equipment operator at Northwest Transfer Station, posing in front of a heap of single-stream recycling (photo credit: Aaron Henkin / WYPR)
front-end loader at Northwest Transfer Station
A front-end loader shovels recyclables into a compacting pit at Northwest Transfer Station (photo credit: Aaron Henkin / WYPR)
Krystin Oldendorf
Kristyn Oldendorf, Chief of the Office of Support Services for Baltimore's Department of Solid Waste, sitting outside the city's Northwest Transfer Station (photo credit: Aaron Henkin / WYPR)

Aaron creates and produces original radio programs and podcasts for WYPR. His current project is The Maryland Curiosity Bureau. Aaron's neighborhood documentary series, Out of the Blocks, earned the 2018 national Edward R Murrow Award. His past work includes the long-running weekly cultural program, The Signal, and the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings series, Tapestry of the Times. Aaron's stories have aired nationally on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.