Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich celebrated the 24th Annual Recycling Awareness Week by honoring recipients of the County’s Recycling Achievement Awards for outstanding achievements in waste reduction, reuse and recycling. The ceremonies, at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, recognized individuals, multi-family properties, businesses, organizations and government facilities.
Recycling Awareness Week is a designated week each year during which the County highlights and showcases the achievements of our community and honors them for their efforts to help the County reach its goals of reducing waste and recycling more, aiming for Zero Waste.
“Since 1999, Montgomery County has celebrated its own Recycling Awareness Week by highlighting the hard work and commitment by our businesses, government agencies, multi-family properties, and individuals,” said County Executive Elrich. “Each year, the list of awardees includes more recipients who recognize the importance of reducing waste and recycling more. I am thankful for today’s awardees who are taking action to help us achieve our goals as we aim for Zero Waste.”
A summary of the 2023 recycling achievement award winners:
Multi-Family - Outstanding Efforts in Waste Reduction and Recycling. Awarded to multi-family properties that have undertaken exemplary efforts to develop, expand, or enhance their waste reduction and recycling programs. For this and all of the following award categories, information obtained is based upon interactions with DEP/Waste Reduction and Recycling staff.
- Asbury Methodist Village. Asbury Methodist Village exhibits excellent communication when it comes to recycling and educating residents about the do's and don'ts of recycling so that residents recycle right. Multiple resident councils within Asbury Methodist Village coordinate and host waste reduction and recycling presentations to increase resident awareness of recycling and how to recycle right at Asbury Methodist Village. In addition, Asbury has implemented a voluntary food scraps recycling program to minimize the amount of waste disposed in their waste stream. In 2022, Asbury Methodist Village recycled 253,833 pounds of food scraps!
- Blair House. Blair House has multiple green initiatives to increase recycling and reduce waste while aiming for Zero Waste. Among these initiatives are recycling of carpet, electronics, clothing and food scraps. In 2022, Blair House recycled more than 20,000 pounds of voluntary materials. In 2022, Blair House achieved a recycling rate of 73.5 percent.
- Claridge House. At Claridge House, educational materials on recycling right are distributed directly to residents and posted throughout the community to increase awareness of the property’s on-site recycling program. For example, the recycling collection area in the garage level of the building has a separate recycling container for voluntary items such as fluorescent light bulbs, ink and toner cartridges and batteries, in addition to recycling containers for the required recyclable materials. In 2022, residents of Claridge House recycled almost 90 pounds of fluorescent light bulbs, batteries and ink cartridges. Residents are encouraged to donate unwanted items to further reduce the amount of waste generated on-site.
- Churchill Senior Living. Churchill Senior Living is committed to recycling and offers its residents plenty of opportunities to recycle with a great capacity for collection services and accessibility at their collection sites. The property continuously recycles more than 50 percent of its waste year after year. In 2022, Churchill Senior Living continued this level of excellence by recycling almost 61 percent of its waste stream. The staff at Churchill Senior Living ensures that all recycling containers and trash chutes are well labeled and accompanied with posters resulting in recyclable materials that are contamination-free.
- The Colonnade at Kentlands. The staff at Colonnade at Kentlands ensures that all recycling containers are clean and well labeled, resulting in clean recyclable materials with no contamination. As part of the property’s continued recycling education for residents, management routinely provides updated recycling container labels, brochures, flyers and posters to keep everyone informed about the property’s recycling program. Providing updated information and ensuring that residents have in-unit recycling bins increases their efforts to recycle more and recycle right. In 2022, the Colonnade at Kentlands recycled about 78 percent of its waste stream.
- Georgetown Village Condominium. The Board of Directors and property manager at Georgetown Village Condominium have demonstrated that it is possible to have a successful recycling program for a large multi-family community. In each of its 19 buildings, the property has clean and organized recycling collection areas with containers for residents to recycle plastic bags, batteries and the required recyclable materials. Informational notices about recycling are posted on bulletin boards that are located above mailboxes at each building and articles about recycling are included in the community newsletter. As needed, calls and notices are sent directly to residents who can be identified for not putting trash and recyclable material in the proper containers or for not breaking down cardboard boxes.
- Grosvenor Park II Condominium. Grosvenor Park II Condominium is on its fourth edition of “Easy Ways to Recycle at Grosvenor Park II Condominium” which is a small guide that is updated and distributed annually that describes the types of materials that can be placed in the property’s on-site recycling containers and local retail locations that accept items such as eyeglasses and cellphones. To increase resident awareness and participation, the community hosts recycling outreach events in the lobby to encourage residents to recycle right. The social programs committee members also place door hangers on the doorknobs of 422 dwelling units before the holiday season to promote and encourage recycling during the busy holiday season. Recycling collection containers are also placed in the parking garage to collect fluorescent light bulbs. In 2022, residents recycled 528 pounds of fluorescent light bulbs Through these efforts, the property’s recycling rate increased from 14.3 percent in 2020 to 53.5 percent in 2022.
- Mica Condominium at Silver Spring Metro. Mica Condominium understands that recycling participation increases with accessibility and awareness. A sign posted in the building’s elevator includes a QR code that leads residents to an extensive list of organizations that accept a wide variety of materials for repurpose or reuse. The property also hosted a “swap meet” event for Earth Month to give residents the opportunity to trade gently used items with each other. This has led to an increase in waste reduction efforts at the property. In addition to reducing waste, the recycling collection area includes a recycling container for residents to recycle food scraps. Residents diverted more than7,500 pounds of food scraps from disposal in 2022.
- Victory Crossing. The trash rooms at Victory Crossing have recycling flyers translated into Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Mandarin and Amharic. This has greatly improved the accessibility of recycling information to residents. During the quarterly resident’s management meeting, a block of time is dedicated to reminding residents how to recycle right. Monthly newsletters are another tool to increase recycling education, along with the periodic notices displayed on the property’s digital information screen located at the entrance of the building.
- The Green Team of Ingleside at King Farm. Residents at Ingleside at King Farm have their own Green Team, which is very active. The Green Team has regular recycling educational meetings to educate residents and staff about reducing waste, recycling more and composting initiatives. In addition, the Green Team designed its own creative visuals for the trash and recycling rooms to effectively educate their neighbors about what can and cannot be recycled.
- Montgomery County Alcohol Beverage Services. The Alcohol Beverage Services Department (ABS) of Montgomery County, Maryland has shown an outstanding commitment to recycling and waste diversion throughout the department’s operations. In 2022, with ABS leadership buy-in and support, the department formed a green team to audit trash and recycling efforts and develop a long- and short-term waste diversion plan. Working closely with staff from the Recycling and Resource Management Division of the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of General Services, ABS green team members replaced broken trash and recycling equipment to reduce on-site litter, set up four additional recycling stations in the warehouse and administrative offices, increased recycling collection frequencies, expanded recycling of electronics and provided multiple recycling education events and a litter clean-up day for staff. As a result, ABS successfully diverted an additional 3,754 tons commingled materials, 2.73 tons of scrap metal and 393 pounds of electronics in just one year. Furthermore, to reduce waste, ABS reuses boxes and works closely with suppliers to take back materials and products for reuse, such as shipping pallets and whiskey and wine barrels. ABS’s commitment to recycling and reducing waste demonstrates Montgomery County’s efforts to walk the talk, for cleaner land, air and water.
- Peter Brokt, The Colourist Salon. According to some sources, it is estimated that the beauty industry generates almost 900 pounds of waste every minute. The Green Circle Salons, founded in 2009, created a certification program to empower salons to offset their emissions and recover up to 95 percent of beauty waste. The Colourist Salon, located in Rockville, was the first Green Circle-certified salon in Montgomery County and the State of Maryland. Founded by owner Peter Brokt, the salon recycles hard-to-recycle items such as hair clippings, foils, excess hair color and plastic color tubes. The Colourist Salon is a leader in the beauty industry and the sustainable beauty movement.
- Girls on the Run Montgomery County. Girls on the Run Montgomery County implements fun, evidence-based programs that inspire girls to build confidence, kindness and decision-making skills. Each year in the spring and fall, Girls on the Run holds its 5K run for program participants. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Leanne Till, event director for Girls on the Run Montgomery County, sought to make its 5K events Zero-Waste events. While the races were transitioned online during the first year of COVID-19, Ms. Till used that time to brainstorm ideas and worked directly with the organization’s partners who sponsor the event and donate food, beverages and materials. Girls on the Run rethought how it ordered spirit wear, giveaways and race materials. The result was a switch to either compostable or recyclable items provided to participants during the race, setup of recycling and food scraps recycling stations throughout the course and ordering items such as t-shirts based on enrollment numbers and not simply projections, reducing the amounts of extras. Girls on the Run was able to host the first-ever Zero Waste 5K in its history, nationwide, in 2022.
- Global Communities. At its core, Global Communities is dedicated to sustainability. Through their actions, it strives to ensure a prosperous and equitable environment for struggling communities across the world, including in downtown Silver Spring. Global Communities has redirected a great deal of its waste to recycling. It partners with local organizations to collect and recycle food scraps, plastic film and electronics, and encourages employees to recycle as much of these materials as possible. It is dedicated to education and environmentalism and is excited to grow its programs.
- The Heights School. Reducing waste in a school can be a challenge, but the faculty and students at The Heights School do an extraordinary job with their waste reduction and recycling efforts. Its recycling rate is above 75 percent year after year. Examples of their waste reduction and recycling efforts: students on sports teams clean out team buses and recycle appropriate materials while the theatre department builds sets reusing materials from old sets and uses scrap lumber and hardware as much as possible. Teachers are known to repair damaged textbooks to reduce the need to purchase new textbooks and will mix coffee grounds from the faculty lounge into the soil of the vegetable garden, which is maintained by seventh grade students. The school also has an onsite compost bin for yard trim materials from its garden.
- Nordstrom Rack. Nordstrom’s BeautyCycle is an innovative take-back and recycling program that accepts all brands of beauty packaging materials to be recycled into new products. Regardless of whether the beauty product was purchased at Nordstrom or another retailer, customers can bring empty makeup, hair care and skin care containers to a local Nordstrom store and place them in a BeautyCycle box for recycling. Nordstrom sends the materials to its recycling partner where the materials are cleaned and separated into metals, glass and plastics. Those materials are then recycled into new products.
- REGENXBIO. REGENXBIO, a biotech company located in Rockville, generates a significant amount of waste throughout the research and development process and manufacturing operations. To minimize the amount of waste disposed in the waste stream, medical waste from its research and development process and manufacturing operations are collected and recycled into alternative plastic lumber used for retaining walls, decks, piers and shipping pallets. In 2022, REGENXBIO diverted more than 35,000 pounds of medical lab waste and electronics for recycling.
- William F. Bolger Center. The Bolger Center demonstrates its steadfast commitment to protecting the environment and goes above and beyond with its recycling efforts. Surrounded by 43 acres of managed grounds, the management team of this historic hotel and conference center are committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship. In addition to recycling the required recyclable materials, the Bolger Center recycles mixed batteries, cooking oil, motor oil, plastic film, light bulbs, and tires. Food scraps are also now recycled through the Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Partnership Program. Joel Flores, the ground supervisor for the property, organizes annual Earth Day and Arbor Day events to increase awareness of waste reduction and recycling programs for both staff and visitors.
- Oscar Caceres, Red Coats, Inc. Participation and accuracy by the janitorial service company in any building is crucial to the success of waste reduction and recycling programs. Oscar Caceres, regional manager of Red Coats, Inc., was instrumental in organizing nearly 100 percent of his janitorial staff to be trained on proper handling and separation of waste and recycling at 15 properties in Montgomery County. Mr. Caceres ensured the successful training of almost 300 Red Coats’ janitorial and cleaning staff. He coordinated training to be provided in both English and Spanish to reach the largest number of employees and to ensure the highest level of understanding.
- Debra Low, Bethesda Place. Debra Low is responsible for the management of mixed-use multi-family and commercial properties at Bethesda Place. Ms. Low is an enthusiastic supporter of recycling and is always looking for new ways to share information about recycling with her commercial tenants and multi-family residents. She ensures everyone is aware of the County’s recycling requirements and promotes programs and services to maximize recycling and increase waste diversion efforts. For example, Ms. Low coordinated a coat drive in which residents donated their gently used coats and winter wear to be repurposed and distributed to residents in need. Under her management, Bethesda Place recycled approximately 2,850 pounds of fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs, keeping these items out of the waste stream.
- Karen E. Mendez, Rolling Terrace Elementary School. Karen Mendez is a third grade teacher at Rolling Terrace Elementary School. She has experienced her fair share of environmental disasters and has dedicated herself to making positive change. Ms. Mendez strives to offer opportunities for her students to consider how their actions may affect the environment. During more than 20 years at Rolling Terrace, she has organized annual stream clean-ups and the popular Green Kids Club to draw attention to environmental issues and teach students about choices. She shares her dedication to environmentalism with her students through different ways to reduce, reuse and recycle in school and at home. She organizes recycling demonstrations for her students, encourages and motivates staff, faculty and students to recycle right and finds ways to reduce single-use items in her classroom.
- Clifton Park Baptist Church
- Columbia Country Club
- Hughes Network Systems
- Ingleside at King Farm
- Montgomery College – Germantown Campus
- Montgomery College – Rockville Campus
- The 4 Corners Pub
- Washington Waldorf School
- William F. Bolger Center