Written by Mubassira Nur and Ona Olisa, 2022 Montgomery County Climate Interns
Spring Cleaning Season is upon us! Read on for details on what do to with your unwanted items.
The Shady Grove Transfer Station and Processing Facility (16101 Frederick Rd, Derwood, MD 20855) is the ideal place for Montgomery County, MD residents and businesses to bring unwanted items for disposal and recycling. It is the only county-operated disposal facility. Operation hours are Monday to Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Transfer Station is designed to accept a variety of materials that residents and businesses bring to the site. As a popular drop-off location with over 2,000 visitors a day, some residents come in with a few items or go big after a spring cleaning, while others come because they prefer to discard personal materials by taking them directly to the Transfer Station instead of leaving them out for curbside collection.
The Transfer Station accepts almost everything that comes in, excluding shingles, roofing materials, railroad tires, and car parts. All Transfer Station users must separate their recyclables and trash and deliver them to the appropriate sections of the facility. The trash collection area accepts garbage loads, as well as soiled and unusable materials that cannot be recycled.
The Upper Lot of the facility has a recycling area, where residents can bring in commingled “blue bin” materials, including aluminum cans, glass bottles, and plastic bottles, as well as mixed paper and cardboard, which is helpful to prevent crowding of home recycling bins. The Upper Lot also accepts bikes, electronics, building materials, textiles (clothing and shoes), tires, vegetable oil, motor oil and antifreeze, scrap metal, appliances, and rigid plastics. There is an additional area in the Upper Lot allocated for the proper disposal of hazardous materials, including light bulbs (fluorescent, LCD, LED, and CFL), paint, pesticides, and more. The Lower Lot of the facility accepts yard trim and wood waste for grinding and composting off-site.
It is recommended that residents reach out to animal shelters to donate bedding for bathing, bedding, clean-up, and cage covers. Similarly, furniture cannot be recycled at the Transfer Station, so it should ideally be donated to a donation center or charity where it will not be treated as trash.
There is no limit on how much can be discarded at the facility. However, fees are assigned to yard waste and trash loads over 500 pounds. Construction materials, concrete, dirt, and rubble are charged a specific fee for disposal at the station.
The Transfer Station also serves as a donation center for many county-based nonprofits. Items collected for donation include electronics, bikes, books, building materials, and textiles. Donations are split between 5-8 nonprofits per material type, which agree for the donations to be reused and distributed with little to no cost to the public.
One nonprofit works with collecting clothing and shoes in good condition to keep those items out of landfills and support our community. Another nonprofit collects books for community book donations and sales. All nonprofits that have a presence at the Transfer Station are based in Montgomery County, but often donations can be distributed throughout the country and even internationally.
If you’re thinking about taking a trip to the Transfer Station, there are many resources to guide you. The Transfer Station’s webpage has important information needed to make your drop-off journey a success. There are also on-site workers at the Transfer Station to direct residents. Public tours of the Recycling Center are available on Monday through Friday at scheduled times from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with advance registration.
Photo courtesy of Montgomery County Government. Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station.