Hayden scraps plans for countywide recycling

November 05, 1991|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden said yesterday that plans for countywide curbside recycling will have to wait and volunteers will have to staff recycling collection centers indefinitely because the county is strapped for cash.

Mr. Hayden said budget constraints forced the moves as he unveiled a recycling plan aimed at meeting a state mandate to reduce the county's solid waste by 20 percent by 1994.

The plan calls for expanding curbside collection of mixed paper to 55,000 homes by June and offering curbside collection of mixed paper and lawn waste to half of the county's 282,000 homes by 1994.

It calls for setting up a citizens committee to counsel Mr. Hayden on recycling, hiring or transferring 8.5 positions into the Department of Public Works' recycling division in the next two years to run the program and spending $5.5 million in the next three years to pay for it. The county has offered curbside recycling in a handful of neighborhoods as a pilot project since July 1990.

Those neighborhoods, Woodbridge Valley, Turners Station, Watersedge, Overlea and Linover will have curbside collection permanently under the plan. Rodgers Forge, which was part of a pilot program that ended last year, will have curbside paper collection by December, county officials said.

"I think it's an indication that the county is serious about recycling," said Charles Reighart, coordinator of recycling programs.

But critics said that although the plan is a step in the right direction, it falls short of what the county could do, particularly when compared with efforts in Baltimore where citywide curbside recycling is to be available by February.

"I think he's making a mistake and misreading how important the environment is to people," said Lou Curran, founder and first president of the Owings Mills Green Action Committee, which operates the Owings Mills Recycling Center.

Critics called for a deadline for countywide curbside collection, and for Mr. Hayden to focus collection efforts on all recyclable materials, rather than just paper and lawn waste.

"He is essentially saying that the neighborhood [drop-off] centers are going to have to go on indefinitely, and that's not very reassuring," said Dan Jerrems, president of the Baltimore -- Recycling Coalition and Atlantic Recycled Paper Co., a firm that markets recycled paper.

Recycling advocates have called a Nov. 13 public meeting for 7:30 p.m. at Loch Raven Senior High School in an effort to push Mr. Hayden to step up recycling efforts.

But Mr. Hayden said that volunteers will have to continue their efforts because the county cannot afford to increase its role at the centers. "With everything else we do in government, we just don't have the money to throw at it," he said.

The plan would cost $216,000 in employees and materials this year, with county staffers distributing brochures and meeting with community groups to promote recycling, Mr. Reighart said.

Mr. Hayden said that unlike Baltimore, which has municipal trash collection and more densely populated neighborhoods, Baltimore County has communities spread over 610 square miles and 65 trash collection routes handled by private haulers, many of them not equipped to pick up recyclables.

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