Can you hear it? Hark, the sound of Baltimore’s blue recycling bins rumbling to their curbs in unison. The city’s recycling service this week will resume weekly collections, nearly four years after operations were initially reduced.

Officials first scaled back curbside recycling to every other week in 2020 due to pandemic-related staffing shortages, supply chain delays and increased recycling tonnage as residents stayed home.

Gone are the days of A and B schedule weeks, said Mayor Brandon Scott during a news conference Monday. The city wants the weekly collections to go seamlessly for residents, he said.

“This is an important and huge milestone for Baltimore and it took a significant amount of work to get here,” Scott said.

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Residents and city leaders have long complained about the reduced service, prompting marathon city council hearings and one false start.

Scott brought back weekly services in January 2021, a month after his inauguration. But a year later, he cut back the service once again, citing continued difficulties.

Scott said the city ultimately needed three things: to hire more workers, expand its fleet of vehicles and optimize routes for crews.

The vacancy rate for solid waste workers is now 8.6%, the lowest rate since before the pandemic, he said. The city has still only received 20 of the 80 new recycling trucks it ordered in 2021 thanks to supply chain delays. However, crews who used to rely on paper maps to navigate routes are now using modernized GPS systems, which helped reduce the number of necessary stops from 2,600 down to 1,800, Scott said.

In preparation for the new schedule, Baltimore’s Department of Public Works circulated reminders for residents to make sure all recyclables are cleaned, stored in containers (not plastic bags) and placed out on the curb by 6 a.m. on pick-up day.

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Baltimore Banner reporter Emily Sullivan contributed to this article.

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