Officials Say 'Do As I Do' On Recycling Effort

April 21, 1991|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

County recycling officials working to change the throw-away mind-setof Carroll residents haven't neglected to rid their own rank and file of wasteful habits.

Tons of newspaper, office paper and aluminumproducts discarded by county employees that previously would have consumed costly space in Carroll landfills now is placed on Wednesdays in county office building hallways for eventual delivery to recyclingfacilities.

The county's in-house recycling effort -- which takes place at the main County Office Building in Westminster, satellite government offices, the Board of Education, several schools, Carroll Circuit Courts and the County Detention Center -- started in December 1989, two months after its first recycling coordinator was appointed.

"I thinkit's good that people come into the County Office Building, especially on Wednesdays, and see baskets in the hallways," said Dwight Copenhaver, recycling coordinator.

"The county has to show progress at home first before expecting others to follow suit."

The library system is the county's next internal focus, he said.

Copenhaver saidthat about four tons of computer and office paper was collected for recycling each month in 1990.

He said he did not have figures for the amount of newspapers and aluminum cans collected each month because the waste products are generated in numerous locales and distributed to several outlets.

The county receives nominal income from itsrecycling efforts -- about $50 per ton for high-grade computer paperand $6 per

ton for office paper, said Jack Curran, chief of the Bureau of Solid Waste Management.

But the cost of having the products trucked away from a storage bin at the Northern Landfill negates any profits, say county officials.

The county does not receive any payments for recycling newspapers, giving them to Suburban Insulationof Hagerstown, Washington County, and to local farmers to use as bedding for animals. Proceeds from aluminum cans are negligible.

"Recycling is just something you should do, but it does cost money to do it," said James Slater, director of the Department of Natural Resource Protection.

The county has not had to pay processors to accept its recyclable products, said Slater. Markets for recyclable materialsgenerally have developed slowly, hindering efforts to increase recycling.

Response from county employees has been good, said Slater. Each office has been outfitted with three bins to separate computer paper, office paper and cans for recycling.

"We made sure it's convenient to recycle rather than to throw in the trash," he said. "That'sthe key to any program. Make it easy to do."

The county is investigating recycling cardboard, said Slater. He said county government doesn't generate much plastic that can be recycled.

Slater is working with the Bureau of Purchasing to develop a policy to buy recycled or recyclable materials for county government use. He plans to seek approval from the County Commissioners.

"To me, it's more importantto buy something that's recyclable rather than something that's recycled," he said. "Then we can be sure we can keep it out of the waste stream."

The purchasing department currently has contracts, arranged through the Baltimore Regional Cooperative Purchasing Committee, to buy recycled letterhead paper, envelopes and photocopying paper, said Tom Crum, bureau chief. It is working on a bid to buy recycled computer paper, he said, and investigating other recycled materials.

"The commodities out there just aren't that great right now," he said.

The county also is recycling in less obvious ways. It uses crushed concrete and asphalt from demolition projects as aggregate for truck-hauling roads at county landfills. It also will use sterilized soil -- once contaminated by underground storage tanks -- to cap landfills.

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