Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently held its 23rd Annual Recycling Achievement Recognition ceremony honoring 22 recipients for outstanding achievement in recycling, waste reduction and reuse. The online ceremony recognized individuals, multi-family properties, businesses, organizations and government facilities.
The winners were honored for their efforts to help the County toward reaching its goals of reducing waste and recycling more, aiming toward zero waste.
“Montgomery County recycles 58.94 percent of its solid waste—the highest recycling rate in Maryland. It could not be done without the efforts of these awardees,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “In spite of the continuing pandemic, these recycling achievement award recipients continue to do the difficult, but necessary work. We hope that other members of the community will follow their lead.”
County DEP Acting Director Adriana Hochberg said the honorees are influencing others in increasing recycling.
“In Montgomery County, we offer opportunities for all kinds of materials to be recycled, from glass to electronics,” she said. “We greatly appreciate the robust and innovative recycling efforts of our residents, multi-family properties and businesses, as well as the service that our recycling volunteers provide to the community— helping their neighbors navigate the County’s recycling system. These awardees are helping Montgomery County move the needle forward in a major way.”
Many of the award winners were selected based on interactions with DEP Waste Reduction and Recycling staff.
A summary of the 2022 recycling achievement award winners:
Recycling Group of the Year
The “Recycling Group of the Year Award” is presented to volunteers who support DEP’s Recycling and Resource Management Division—Waste Reduction and Recycling Section and make a difference in their community.
The award recognizes a group of residents who work to get others to reuse and recycle. Recognition is based on their efforts to engage others in their community to increase participation in waste reduction and recycling programs and help achieve the County’s goal to reduce waste and recycle more, aiming for zero waste.
The 2022 winner is GO Green Earth throughout Montgomery County. GO Green Earth is a newly formed community group that connects Chinese American residents to resources provided by DEP Waste Reduction and Recycling staff. Over the past year, the group enrolled more than 100 County residents in DEP’s backyard food scraps composting project. Go Green Earth has tested two types of compost bins. GO Green Earth also has translated educational materials into Mandarin, hosted backyard composting training workshops and helped educate and troubleshoot using its WeChat group.
Multifamily Outstanding Efforts in Waste Reduction and Recycling
The “Multifamily Outstanding Efforts in Waste Reduction and Recycling Award” is presented to multi-family properties for their actions in developing, expanding or enhancing their waste reduction and recycling programs.
Three winners were selected in this category:
- Fairmont Plaza Condominium, Bethesda. Fairmont Plaza Condominium exceeded the County’s recycling requirements and provided opportunities for its residents to recycle additional materials including batteries, cellphones and light bulbs/tubes. Last year, Fairmont Plaza Condominium residents recycled more than 150 batteries and 30 cellphones. The staff circulated flyers throughout the community about its trash and recycling program.
- Grosvenor Park I Condominium, North Bethesda. The community’s commitment to waste reduction can be seen in property management’s use of an electronic listserv to minimize the use of paper and having residents use electronic posts to exchange, resell or donate furniture and appliances. Grosvenor Park I also has an on-site library where residents can donate books and an on-site clothing and a shoe donation box. Last year, the community started a food scraps recycling program.
- Kenwood House Cooperative, Chevy Chase. The Green Committee and management staff at Kenwood House have worked to create a convenient recycling program for residents that includes recycling food scraps. Working appliances are donated to various charitable organizations. Kenwood House recycled 81.2 percent of its solid waste in 2021.
Multifamily Property Green Team Leader of the Year
“Multi-Family Property Green Team Leader of the Year Awards” are presented to individuals who made a positive difference in their multi-family communities. They outpace the efforts of others by working diligently to encourage fellow residents to participate in waste reduction, reuse and recycling programs.
The two winners of these awards in 2022 were:
- Joyce Siegel – The Forum Condominium, North Bethesda. Joyce, a member of the board of directors at the Forum, has been instrumental in putting several green initiatives into effect. For many years she was so committed to recycling food scraps that she took her scraps to a local store where they could be dropped off for composting. Joyce worked with DEP, and the management staff and board members at The Forum, to create a food scraps recycling program there.
- Sandra Sugar – The Promenade, Bethesda. The chair of the Eco-Action club at The Promenade, Sandra has been key to making sure all 36 floors of this high-rise community have updated signage on recycling and environmental issues. Information also is placed on monitors in all common areas. Sandra organizes events to increase awareness and participation in the recycling program. She coordinates Earth Day events for residents of The Promenade and trips to the Montgomery County Recycling Center, where they can see how materials are sorted and prepared for recycling.
The “Multi-Family Property Manager of The Year Award” is presented to multi-family property management staff that help develop, expand or enhance the property’s waste reduction and recycling programs.
This year’s honoree is Tammie MacLaren, the property manager at Normandie on the Lake I in Montgomery Village. She ensures that items are diverted from the waste stream, repurposed and used again. Tammie gives residents a listing of local organizations where they can donate no longer needed items. Extra paint is donated to local high school theater clubs. Books and clothing are donated to reuse groups. She created a color-coded system for recycling and trash containers to help residents use the right one.
Business Outstanding Efforts in Waste Reduction and Recycling
“Business Outstanding Efforts in Waste Reduction and Recycling Awards” are presented to businesses that have been exemplary in developing, expanding or enhancing their waste reduction and recycling programs.
Six honorees were selected for 2022 awards:
- Leidos, Bethesda, Gaithersburg and Germantown. Leidos has numerous environmental initiatives, including setting up a food scraps recycling program for employees. Their waste reduction program encourages employees to use reusable utensils, coffee mugs and other cups. Due to COVID-19, Leidos had to switch to individually packaged utensils and cups, but it can all be composted in the company’s food scraps recycling program. Leidos centralizes management of printers, copiers, scanners and fax machines with one vendor that specializes in document management. The company has a commitment to reduce waste by 50 percent by 2030.
- Leveling the Playing Field, Silver Spring. The nonprofit organization collects new and gently used sports and playground equipment and redistributes it to schools and community programs. During the COVID-19 health crisis, Leveling the Playing Field prevented a lot of used sports equipment from entering the waste stream by distributing it as “sports kits” to low- and medium-income students and families.
- Phoenix Computers, Rockville. The volunteer nonprofit organization accepts donations of new and used computers, equipment and software for repair, refurbishing and upgrade. It is then sold at a low cost to low-income individuals and families and individuals with disabilities. This keeps old electronics out of the waste stream and on-site volunteers make sure that anything that cannot be repaired, refurbished or resold is properly recycled.
- Radio Communications Services Division of Montgomery County’s Technology and Business Solutions (TEBS) Department. In 2021, the division handled a major upgrade of its 20-year-old communications infrastructure to enhance efficiency during the COVID-19 health crisis. The team donated reusable communications equipment to various local County governments and transit authorities in need. It also recycled more than two tons of scrap metal and electronic equipment and 3,400 pounds of battery equipment.
- sweetgreen, Rockville. sweetgreen has been a leader in sustainability in the food service industry since the company started in 2007. It has a recycling program for food scraps and compostable food service ware. Customers have easy access to compost any remaining food items, along with food service packaging and straws.
- Takoma Park Child Development Center, Takoma Park. The center is dedicated to creating a supportive environment where children can learn to be cooperative and positive members of the community. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the students and teachers at the center have remained vigilant, working to recycle as many materials as possible, including bulky, rigid plastic toys and equipment.
Business Waste Reduction and Recycling Champion Awards
“Business Waste Reduction and Recycling Champion Awards” go to individuals who have made a positive difference in their workplace to keep and, air and water clean. Honorees have far exceeded the efforts of others to maintain a healthy environment on the job and worked to encourage others to participate in waste reduction and recycling. These individuals serve as examples for others to emulate.
The two 2022 honorees are:
- Amanda Dwyer. Her heart bleeds green and blue. She works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Silver Spring as a grants management specialist in the Marine Debris Department. Last year, Amanda took on the responsibility of overseeing NOAA’s building renovation disposal, donation and recycling efforts. She coordinated efforts to ensure that office supplies were properly recycled and made sure several NOAA departments had information about recycling.
- Aretha Orton. As the property manager for Washington Property Company, LLC., Aretha works to improve recycling programs for several office buildings in Montgomery County. She provides tenants with new recycling updates, making sure they know how to recycle and recycle right. While constantly monitoring on-site recycling programs at these properties, Aretha provides site-specific suggestions that include posting updated information and signage to make employees aware of recycling and waste reduction programs.
“Commercial Recycling Partnerships” honor organizations that work with DEP’s Recycling and Resource Management Division—Waste Reduction and Recycling Section to increase recycling by separating pre-consumer food scraps from the waste stream and recycle them through the commercial food scraps recycling partnership program.
The following seven businesses, organizations and government facilities joined the Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Partnership Program in 2021 and 2022:
- GSK Rockville Center for Vaccines Research
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute
- MCPS Carver Educational Services Center
- MCPS Division of Food and Nutrition Services
- National Institutes of Health
- Our Lady of Good Counsel High School
- Westfield Montgomery Mall