Recycling debate

November 15, 1991

Baltimore County residents disappointed by County NTC Executive Roger B. Hayden's decision to delay implementing countywide curbside recycling may take some comfort from an article by writer Lynn Scarlett that appears elsewhere on this page today. Scarlett argues persuasively that the benefits of recycling, while real, should not be overestimated, and that communities must balance carefully a number of factors in deciding whether recycling's benefits justify its costs.

Baltimore County has already moved decisively to reduce solid wastes 20 percent by 1994. By then, the county will also be funding curbside recycling for about half the county's homes and will have added yard wastes to the program. This year alone it will spend some $3 million on recycling efforts. Hayden told a group of recycling volunteers Wednesday that he'd like to do more, but simply doesn't have the money for countywide expansion now.

Tough times make for tough choices. Hayden said he'd rather delay putting more money into recycling than risk having to lay off, say, county firefighters. We suspect even the most ardent proponents of recycling probably would concede that some services are more vital than others.

Many county residents have donated time and energy to make recycling a reality, and no doubt it eventually will happen, thanks in large part to their efforts. But we can also sympathize with Hayden. Given the situation, he made a prudent decision, and he deserves credit for having courage enough to stick by it.

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