BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City’s recycling collection sites extended their hours on Tuesday.

This comes as trash and recycling are not routinely being picked up because of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the Baltimore City Department of Public Works.

“I share your frustration that we are not where we should be or where I want us to be,” Baltimore City Department of Public Works Acting Director Matthew Garbak said.

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In a hearing Tuesday afternoon, DPW leadership told city council members it wishes it had no choice but to prioritize trash over recycling pick-up.

“The added challenges of increased tonnage, increased callouts, the heats and the routing issues have combined to bring operations to nearly a breaking point,” Baltimore Solid Waste Bureau Chief John Chambers said.

“So many issues at once, it was almost like death by a thousand cuts,” Garbark added.

There are now more than a dozen collection sites across the city, but council members want more.

“It’s good that we have these drop-off points, but it’d be better if there were more of them,” Councilman Ryan Dorsey said.

“At this point in time, we don’t have the capacity to add more dumpsters in the community,” Chambers said.

The Department of Public Works said they’re still looking to hire more solid waste crews. They’re planning a Facebook live job fair on Wednesday afternoon.

For those who can’t make it to a recycling collection site, city officials said they’ll pick it up with your trash.

“Residents can just place their recycling out with their trash and we’ll pick it up,” Chambers said. “That breaks my heart if that’s the end result, but, again, we’re dealing with a pandemic.”

Supervisors are doing spot checks to make sure safety procedures are being followed. Water customers can expect information with their next bill about changes in recycling collection.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Paul Gessler

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