June Recycling, Addition Of 'Tipping Fee' Proposed

Haulers Say They'll Pass Charge On To Customers

November 10, 1991|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff writer

County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann has proposed starting a countywide voluntary trash recycling program in June rather than January and charging trash haulers $60 per ton for waste that cannot be recycled.

Haulers said they would recoup that fee by hiking customers bills.

Trash haulers say the charge, called a "tipping fee," means an average homeowner's $8 bill per month could double or triple when the county launches its voluntary recycling program in June 1992.

Harford is one of the three counties statewide that do not have tipping fees.

Larry Klimovitz, director of administration, told the County Council in a presentation Tuesday that the delay was recommended to alleviate the financial burden the new fee would put on the towns of Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace. The town of Bel Air is scheduled to begin a trial recycling program Nov. 14 using the blue plastic bags that residents countywide will eventually be asked to purchase for placing recyclables in for collection.

"They have not budgeted forthis additional expense in this fiscal year," said Klimovitz.

About the only aspect of the recycling plan that hasn't changed since Rehrmann first proposed the idea is that blue plastic bags will be usedto collect recyclable materials.

Among other new aspects of the program presented to the council for consideration:

* Instead of collecting recyclables and garbage on the same day, as Rehrmann originally proposed, the county's private trash haulers, who now make two pickups a week, will be allowed to make one of those pickups only to collect recyclables.

* County administrators are negotiating with grocery stores to give customers blue plastic bags to carry their groceries, instead of forcing residents who want to recycle to pay extra for them. Blue bags would be sold separately as well, just as other trash bags are sold, even if grocery stores give them out.

* Glass is an acceptable recycle item. Rehrmann originally opposed glass pick up because breakage could tear the bags open.

The tipping fee would cover the estimated $2 million cost of starting up and operating the trash recycling program and the costs of closing one county landfill and expanding another, Klimovitz said.

Although the administration chose to create a tipping fee -- rather than charge residents a recycling fee as originally proposed -- the county's private trash haulers say the money will still come out of their customers' pockets.

"The fee will double or triple homeowners rates across the board," said John McKenzie, owner of McKenzie Sanitation, a trash-hauling business based in Baldwin. "When we raise their bills 50 cents or $1 a month now, you'd think we asked for a double mortgage payment, from customers' reactions."

Robert Hooper, owner of Harford Sanitation, the county's largest private trash hauling business, said the fee is going to hit homeowners and businesses at the wrong time.

"The economy's bad, and there's a lot of people struggling to pay bills," said Hooper. "We often carry people for several months if they can't pay, but this means we'll have to be more hard-nosed about collecting."

Hooper also said that he would probably have to continue picking up unrecyclable trash twice a week and add a third run to pick up recyclables despite the new regulations

Rehrmann plans to introduce.

County records show county residents generated 167,320 tons of trash between July 1, 1990 and June 1, 1991, including 3,162 tons of waste generated by public schools and Harford Community College. The county's population is 182,132, according to U.S. Census figures for 1990; that means county residents generate nearly a ton of trash each.

Harford is mandated by the state to recycle 15 percent of its garbage by 1994. That's about 25,098 tons of trash.

Once approved by the council, Harford's recycling plan must be accepted by the state.

HOW MUCH IS COUNTY RECYCLING?

(July 1990 -- June 1991)

.. .. .. .. .. ..TONS

RESIDENTIAL COLLECTED

Aluminum cans.. ..307

Glass containers..813

Plastics.. .. .. .313

Bi-metal cans.. ..485

Appliances.. .. ..960

Yard waste.. .. ..573

TOTAL.. .. .. ..3,451

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..TONS

COMMERCIAL COLLECTED

Paper.. .. .. .. .. .. ..1,324

Cardboard containers.. ..1,320

TOTAL.... .. .. .. .. ..2,644

Source: Harford County Recycling Plan report, provided by the Department of Public Works

RECYCLABLE UNDER PROPOSAL

* Glass

* Newspaper

* Old corrugated containers

* Ferrous containers

* Aluminum containers

* Plastic film from the blue bags used to collect recyclables

* "White goods": such as refrigerators, washing machines

* Lead, acid and household batteries

* Yard waste, such as grass clippings

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