Get those blue bags ready. Recycling is finally coming to Harford County.
The County Council voted, 6-1, at 12:45 a.m. Wednesday to pass an amended recycling plan that calls for glass, plastic containers, newspaper and other recyclables separated in blue plastic bags for curbside collection.
The blue plastic bags already are being used as grocery bags by some food chains in Harford. They also may be purchased separately like other trash bags once the voluntary recycling program starts in July.
The plan also sets up a $35-per-ton tipping fee to be charged trash haulers dumping garbage in the county landfill or at the waste-to-energy plant at Aberdeen Proving Ground. County Executive Eileen M.Rehrmann had proposed a $60 tipping fee.
Other amendments to the plan call for:
* Mandatory recycling of yard waste. (Recycling of all other products would be voluntary.)
* Increasing the county's grant to the Susquehannock Environmental Center in Bel Air from $10,000 to $60,000 next year. The center is a non-profit education organization that operates a drop off site in Bel Air for a wide range of recyclables.
* Spending up to $50,000 on promotional programs to encourage county residents to separate recyclables out of their garbage for recycling.
The council killed a section of Rehrmann's proposalthat would have allowed the county government to set up trash collection franchise areas if it were determined haulers were overcharging customers to recoup the tipping fees.
Harford is the last county in Maryland to enact a recycling plan. MDE's original deadline for submitting a plan expired about two years ago. Harford was granted an extension, but was later told all counties had to have their recycling proposals submitted to the state by Jan. 1. The council missed that deadline by two weeks.
Due to the late hour there was little discussion of the amendments.
Robert S. Wagner, R-District E, cast the sole vote against the recycling proposal. After the meeting, Wagner said he was concerned about the amount of money it would cost to run the recycling program even with the amendments adopted Tuesday.
"Forone thing, the economy is lousy, and second, the markets for recyclables are dried up," said Wagner. "We should have gone with another approach at very little cost to the county initially."
Wagner also said he wanted to see the county subsidize more centers like Susquehannock, the first citizen-run recycling center in the region, and more drop-off collection points for recyclables.
* Glass bottles (clear, green, brown; must be rinsed out)
* All metal food and beverage cans (rinsed, then crushed if possible)
* Rigid plastic containers (Nos. 1 and 2, such as soda containers, milk containers andliquid laundry and dish soap containers, rinsed)
* Old newspapers(put in blue plastic bag separate from bottles and containers)
* Loose or flattened cardboard containers
* Yard waste in blue plastic bags
SOURCE: Conty recycling plan and Susquehannock Environmental Center