Council Weighs Bags For Curbside Recycling

July 21, 1991|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff writer

Some County Council members say they want more information before deciding whether to support the county executive's proposed curbside recycling plan.

And some trash haulers in the county also say the government should do more research before launching a program based on residential sorting of recyclables.

Under County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann's plan, county residents who want to recycle would buy special blue plastic trash bags to hold glass, aluminum cans and other recyclables.

The blue bags wouldbe collected along with other trash, taken to the county's waste-to-energy facility on Aberdeen Proving Ground and sorted before being sold.

Rehrmann contends the plan will work because it will be easy for county residents to participate and easy for haulers because they won't need to buy special storage equipment for recyclables.

But some council members have criticized the plan, saying the compactors aboard the trucks trash haulers use could tear the blue bags. If the materials then were contaminated by household garbage, they would be rendered useless for recycling.

Two of four blue bags ripped duringa demonstration of the program to reporters several weeks ago.

"One of my concerns is about the materials' spoiling because they come into contact with other trash," said Council Member Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C.

"I think maybe we want to go with containers, not what is the easiest for the trash haulers. We cannot protect the private haulers."

Pierno, Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson and Councilmen Barry T. Glassman, R-District D, and Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B, attended last week's workshop. Another council workshop is scheduled for Aug. 14.

In interviews last week several private haulers agreed that a program based on pickup of blue bags would result inlittle inconvenience for them.

But they said they did not agree that blue bags are necessarily the best way to go.

"The plan's got a lot of loose ends, but that's understandable because it's just beenintroduced," said John McKenzie of McKenzie Sanitation, based in Baldwin. "Blue bags are a great way to get trash off the curb, but I'm not in favor of mingling them with house trash -- people throw away a lot of gross stuff."

For the past six months, McKenzie has offereda recycling plan of his own to between 400 and 600 of his 3,500 customers. McKenzie, who picks up household trash twice a week, gave out free plastic 80 gallon tubs to customers who requested them.

He added a third run on his route to pick up the material for recycling.

McKenzie said he would offer blue bags to customers on an experimental basis soon, in addition to his container program, to see how wellthey worked. He said he plans to collect the blue bags on his recycling plan.

Pam Hardesty of Joppa Sanitation said she's uncertain the blue bag program would work.

"I think recycling's a good idea, but I'm not sure the blue bag system that's been proposed is going to work," she said. "It needs to be tested to see how the bags hold up."

Former County Councilman Robert J. Hooper, owner of Harford Sanitation Inc., said he is concerned about the plan for picking up the blue bags.

"I think blue bags may be a recognizable symbol people can identify with, but I'm not sure of the retrieval system," he said. Hooper said he has offered some customers a choice of using clear plastic bags for recyclables. He said clear bags have made it possible for him to discard items that were incorrectly sorted or mistakenly included in the recycling bag.

Council members said they plan to review the plan carefully in light of a failed pilot program in Aberdeenlast year that used orange bags instead of blue ones.

"In that program there was not sufficient education -- people were putting regular trash in the orange bags," Parrott said. "This may very well be the right program, but we have to bring out the questions."

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