Council Picks Over Recycling

August 18, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

It looks like the county executive's trash recycling proposal is in for a tough haul.

The County Council spent two hours Wednesday afternoon picking apart the proposal that is based on voluntary residential sorting of some recyclables for curbside pickup.

"I think we've made it clear we don't want a quick fix," said Councilwoman Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C, during a council work session Wednesday on the proposal.

"We want a program that's best for Harford County," she said.

Chief among council members' concerns with County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann's proposal:

* Method of collection: Residents would put their newspapers, lawn clippings, aluminum cans and, eventually, glass in blue plastic bags at curbside withtheir trash for twice-a-week collections.

Haulers would pick up trash and recyclable materials, and compress the bags in their garbagetrucks, according to the plan.

But some council members said theywant the county to study collecting trash and recyclable materials separately.

Recyclables could be picked up one day, and trash couldbe collected on another, those council members said.

* Sorting: Rehrmann proposes requiring private trash haulers take their loads of trash and recyclables to the Northeast Maryland Waste Authority's Waste-to-Energy Facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Trash would be burned at the authority's incinerator, and the county would build a facility to separate and process the recyclable materials. The facilityis expected to cost at least $500,000.

Some council members want the county to seek bids from private firms to build and operate a processing plant for recyclables.

Haulers would be required to take collected recyclables to the plant.

They would continue to take other trash to the incinerator or county landfill.

* Cost to homeowners: Rehrmann's plan is expected to add a recycling fee of about $2.25to the average $7.50 fee now paid by the county's 66,250 households for trash services. The added fee would raise money to pay for hiringworkers to sort blue bags from the trash loads at the incinerator.

Pierno said she thinks residents should not have to pay a recyclingfee and suggested that the county provide incentives for haulers to encourage customers to sort recyclables in their trash. The more materials recycled, the bigger the incentives, which could be then passedonto residents, said Pierno.

"I think we need to move away from acharge for our recyclables," Pierno said.

"I think that's moving backward. I think we need to encourage people to recycle."

* Participation: Participation in the recycling program would be voluntary. Council members did not express concern with that, but Pierno said recycling should become mandatory after the program is in full operation.

Harford's recycling plan is modeled in part on a trash recycling program in Pittsburgh, Pa.

In Pittsburgh, recycling is mandatory; trash and recyclables are put in blue bags but collected separately; and a private company processes the recyclable materials.

Piernoand council members Susan B. Heselton, R-District A, and Barry T. Glassman, R-District D, went to Pittsburgh Aug. 7 to see the city's recycling operation.

At Wednesday's work session, representatives from the waste authority, two Virginia engineering consultants, and cityofficials from Pittsburgh and Omaha, Neb., briefed the council on recycling.

Harford is mandated by the state to recycle 15 percent ofits garbage by 1994. Rehrmann wants to start recycling operations byJan. 20.

The council has scheduled a public hearing on Rehrmann'srecycling plan and the council's proposed changes 6 p.m. Sept. 3 at the Council Chambers in the courthouse in Bel Air.

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