For some time, Baltimore City and most of the surrounding counties have been moving toward compliance with a state law mandating substantial recycling by 1994. Critical in this effort has been Mid-Atlantic Recycling Corp., a local concern that, unlike virtually all of its competitors, accepts unsorted paper at no cost and resells it in the marketplace. But due to a sour economy and plummeting paper prices, Mid-Atlantic says it is losing money and wants to charge suppliers a $15 per ton tipping fee. Local subdivisions are balking.
Under normal circumstances, the obvious remedy would be to find another company that would accept paper waste. But Mid-Atlantic is the only game in town. It collects mixed paper, eliminating the sorting burden on households and making it easier to participate in recycling. This type of service is tough to beat. Competing companies only accept certain kinds of paper. Firms willing to take the residue charge counties tipping fees.
Solving this conundrum means weighing the relative costs of Mid-Atlantic's tipping fee against higher sorting and collection costs. Some argue that other options exist, including incineration and landfills. But these are the very ills recycling is supposed to remedy.