Wheelabrator Baltimore and Housing Authority of Baltimore City Launch

First Public-Private Grassroots Recycling Effort in Public Housing Community

Pilot Program Expands We Can Bmore Campaign to Increase City Recycling Rate

BALTIMORE (Aug. 24, 2019) – The public and private sectors have joined forces in a first-of-its-kind grassroots initiative designed to increase recycling in Baltimore’s public housing communities. Despite decades of recycling education, Baltimore’s overall recycling rate stands at less than 20 percent, with access to recycling services in the city’s public housing communities particularly limited.

The new public housing pilot program, being launched today in the Brooklyn Homes community, represents a major expansion of Wheelabrator Baltimore’s We Can Bmore campaign. Started in 2018, We Can Bmore is a public awareness and engagement initiative that invests in waste reduction and recycling promotion efforts and the individuals, organizations and institutions that support this important work in Baltimore City.

In July, Brooklyn Homes residents sought the assistance of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City to improve access to recycling services in their community. Brooklyn Homes is an ideal location in which to launch We Can Bmore’s public housing pilot due to the nature of waste pickup in the community.

While most housing developments, including the majority of public housing communities, utilize dumpster trash collection, Brooklyn Homes utilizes municipal trash cans to dispose of residential waste. Recycling in communities with dumpster-based collections is difficult because it requires a dedicated recycling dumpster to be installed in addition to a dumpster for trash. In many cases, space limitations prohibit a second dumpster. Where there is space for a second dumpster, some residents – without the benefit of ongoing education – mistakenly throw trash in the recycling dumpster, thereby contaminating the recyclable materials.

As part of its We Can Bmore campaign, Wheelabrator Baltimore will provide free residential-sized recycling bins to members of the Brooklyn Homes community. Residents can then put their household recycling out on designated city pickup days, just as they do their trash.

“Working with Brooklyn Homes’ Tenant Council and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, we’re pleased to expand the We Can Bmore campaign to a public housing community for the first time,” said Wheelabrator Market Manager Michael Dougherty. “Building this campaign citywide is critical to improving Baltimore’s recycling participation rate, reducing litter and diverting waste from landfills.”

The launch of the Brooklyn Homes initiative today included a community clean-up event, a cookout for volunteers, recruitment of recycling block captains and the beginning of recycling bin distribution to residents. In addition to providing funding for the bins, Wheelabrator Baltimore is creating paid positions for community members to participate alongside volunteers in local canvassing and education initiatives.

“We are always looking at ways to improve our community,” said Brooklyn Homes Tenant Council President Jacqueline Williams. “Increasing the amount of trash we recycle is an important part of making our neighborhood cleaner and improving the environment. Bringing this program to Brooklyn Homes will make it easier for residents to get involved and stay involved. We are grateful that Wheelabrator and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City are helping to make this happen.”

“This public-private partnership is an innovative approach to addressing a significant need for many city residents,” said Housing Authority of Baltimore City Executive Director Janet Abrahams. “I applaud the residents and leaders of Brooklyn Homes for taking an active role in promoting increased recycling, and I’m pleased that we are able to partner with Wheelabrator Baltimore to make the We Can Bmore program a reality in this community. We hope this pilot program expands the campaign to HABC’s  other public housing communities in the future.”

The Brooklyn Homes initiative follows a recent large-scale expansion of the We Can Bmore campaign through a partnership between Wheelabrator Baltimore and the Ministers’ Conference of Baltimore and Vicinity. Together, the organizations have established teams of local paid and volunteer Green Ambassadors who participate in community clean ups and promote recycling initiatives in neighborhoods throughout the city. In just a few short weeks, the Green Ambassadors have removed more than 15,000 gallons of litter from Baltimore’s streets, alleys and sidewalks.

In addition to the launch of the We Can Bmore initiative in Brooklyn Homes, today’s event included the involvement of HEAL (Healthy Elimination of All pests Long-Term) campaign teams. The City of Baltimore Department of Public Works Rat Rubout program inspected for active rat burrows for treatment, including rat burrows uncovered by clean-up activities.

The HEAL campaign is a two-year project working to eliminate rats from public housing properties and has posted a 90 percent reduction in rat burrows since the program began on Nov. 1, 2017.

About HABC:

HABC is the fifth largest public housing authority in the U.S., providing quality affordable housing for more than 23,000 households. The agency creates diverse and vibrant communities, provides opportunities for self-sufficiency, and builds pathways for strong partnerships. #bmoreHABC

About We Can Bmore

We Can Bmore is a public awareness and engagement campaign by Wheelabrator Technologies that invests in waste reduction initiatives and the individuals, organizations and institutions that support this important cause in Baltimore City. In addition to investing in local sustainability education that promotes waste reduction, diversion from landfills and product reuse, We Can Bmore provides the tools necessary to make a difference.

Check out more pictures at our public photo gallery on photos.habc.org!