Recycling To Do A Number On Old Telephone Books

June 23, 1991|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff writer

When Carroll residents get their new telephone books next month, they'll find a note about how to get their old directory recycled, thanks to a joint effort by business and government.

Getting the books recycled has "been a concern for quite some time," said Dwight Copenhaver, recycling manager for the county's Bureau of Solid Waste.

"This is the first year we've really got the ball rolling," he said.

Individual towns could not have recycled the books without a coordinated countywide effort, said James McCarron, a Taneytown councilman who represents municipal government on the county's Recycling Committee.

"Nobody wanted the books because the binding was a problem," McCarron said of the glued spine that has to be removed before recycling. "It's a significant amount of the waste stream."

Much of the support, such as transporting books and helping start the project, comes from Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. and a volunteer groupof its retired employees -- the Telephone Pioneers of America.

The county is cooperating with the eight Carroll towns to arrange a drop-off point. In most cases, Copenhaver said, it will be in the same place where red bins are for other recyclables so residents wishing toleave phone books won't have to make a special trip.

C & P estimates that 40,000 telephone directories are distributed in Carroll eachyear. If every recipient takes an old book to a recycling point, thecounty could keep up to 25 tons of recyclable paper out of its two landfills, Copenhaver said. That would be 0.02 percent of the average 120,000 tons of trash the landfills take in annually.

He said paper in the directories is of a higher quality than newspaper, though not as high as office paper.

The county has made efforts over the last two years to begin phone book recycling, but "the company we deal with did not want them," Copenhaver said of Hagerstown-based SuburbanInsulation, which grinds paper to make their product. "But the same company is going to take them (through the C & P program)."

Copenhaver said the county's recycling center on Route 97 gets about four phone directories a week with the newspapers and office paper, and thecounty has been able to slip those few in with the newspapers.

Aswith newspapers, the county won't get paid for phone books it recycles, unlike metal cans that fetch a price for being recycled.

The market for recyclable paper is depressed, Copenhaver said. Some of thenewspaper goes to farmers who shred it for cattle bedding, then let it compost.

But the county still benefits by recycling the phone books with C&P, he said.

"It's to our advantage, because we don't have to pay someone to take it or put it in our landfill," he said.

The two landfills could last another 12 years or so, county officials estimate. Unless recycling takes off, the county could be looking at buying hundreds more acres for another landfill or building a waste-to-energy plant that would either burn trash or turn it into fuel pellets for industry to burn.

So far, Copenhaver said, towns have seemed willing to cooperate, though some details about where and when drop-offs will be have yet to be decided.

The new books will be distributed July 12-24.

Westminster, Taneytown, Mount Airy and Sykesville will use a bin to be located near their red recycling bins.

New Windsor residents may take directories to the Town Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. Mondays and 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, beginning July 15. UnionBridge, Hampstead and Manchester have not decided where their drop-off points will be.

When the program was announced at the HampsteadTown Council meeting Monday, members said they were eager to participate.

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