Although recycling advocates are calling Baltimore County's new recycling plan "a step in the right direction," they are criticizing its scope and continued reliance on volunteers.
County Executive Roger B. Hayden announced earlier this week a plan intended to allow the county to meet the state's mandate of recycling 20 percent of its waste by 1994.
Representatives of the volunteers, who operate various drop-off centers, say the county's failure to aim higher shows lack of commitment to the environment.
Hayden acknowledged the work of the volunteers, calling them "a critical element in our recycling efforts to date," and said he would encourage continued citizen participation by appointing a Citizens Advisory Committee on Recycling. The committee would to help educate communities and provide the county with information on how the plan can grow.
The county will also redirect $216,000 in resources to its recycling division for the fiscal year that began in July, Hayden said. Some personnel will be transferred from other, yet-to-be determined agencies to meet the division's increased activities, he added.
And, starting next month, residents of Rodger's Forge and some other neighborhoods will have newspapers, magazines, telephone books and junk mail picked up in front of their houses. The other neighborhoods are to be announced soon.
The county hopes to reach 20 percent of its households by next July, and to start a major expansion of curbside pick-up of lawn waste by that date as well.
Lawn waste is now picked up in a pilot program in the Overlea/Linover area, one of three pilot programs in the county. The other two are in Woodbridge Valley and Turners Station/Watersedge.
"Our plan is designed to enable us to meet or exceed the state's mandate," Hayden said. The goal is curbside collection at approximately 155,000 households by January 1994, he said.
"This is an ambitious goal," Hayden said. "We must transform our current efficient solid-waste system to incorporate a significant change in the lifestyle and habits of county residents."
The county will also expand its pilot programs in various neighborhoods in "an effort to determine the most effective ways to recycle at curbside," the executive said.
The county plans to experiment with substituting a recycling pick-up for one general trash pick-up day, Hayden explained.
But Dan Jerrems, chairman of the Baltimore County Recycling Coalition, said the county's plan has several shortcomings, not the least of which is the lack of a specific time frame for when all county residents can expect curbside pick-up of all of their recyclable materials, not just papers.
Recycling centers only attract the most devoted recyclers, who make up a small percentage of residents, Jerrems said. Volunteers who have devoted their Saturday mornings to recycling for the past year feel that the county is putting too much responsibility on them.
"Without an end point, [volunteers] feel used," he said. "This is just not a tenable, long-term solution."
Carol Bernstein, president of GrassRoots Recycling Inc., agreed.
"It presents a very big challenge to all of the drop-off centers because it means we have to continue to function," she said.
Recycling centers were established as an interim step to show the county's commitment to recycling, she said, "and it's turning into a much greater commitment."
"What [Hayden's] asking of these volunteers . . . is unreasonable," she said.
In an effort to convince Hayden of the county's need for more recycling, recycling advocates have scheduled a public meeting on Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Loch Raven High School.
Lou Curran, founder and president of Owings Mills Green Action and head of the Owings Mills drop-off center, called the county's plan "a minimalist response to a skeletal goal."
He also questioned the need to extend pilot programs.
"We don't need pilot programs -- we're reinventing the wheel for about the 18th time," Curran said.
Some recyclers fear that meeting the state mandate will be the extent of the county's recycling program, and that curbside pick-up of papers and lawn waste, which make up the bulk of the county's recyclable materials, is a way for Hayden to reach that goal.
Jerrems said he supports the idea of a Citizens Advisory Committee, because "up until now there's been very little citizens' input."
Said Bernstein: "It is good that he wants our input, because we've been looking for a way to give it to him."