Recycling in Carroll County

February 11, 1992

Like their counterparts elsewhere in the state, Carroll County residents have grudgingly recognized that recycling is their best chance for dealing with the region's solid waste disposal problem. The county has a state-of-the-art landfill in Reese. But removing recyclables from the waste stream will save residents millions of dollars over the long run.

The problem is that while everyone agrees recycling is the way to go, no one knows quite how to get there. The county commissioners are looking at county-wide curbside pick-ups for recyclables only. They don't want to get into the business of picking up trash, which presently is handled by the cities and towns or through private contracts between haulers and individual homeowners.

Meanwhile, mayors of the local municipalities want the county to take over both trash pick-ups and recycling. They argue residents would get a better deal if the county negotiated a comprehensive contract with one or two big haulers. But smaller haulers object because they couldn't compete effectively under such an arrangement.

All those arguments were aired recently when the mayors met with the county commissioners and when haulers urged the recycling committee in Taneytown to bid separate contracts for trash and recyclables. Taneytown residents currently contract individually with waste haulers and take recyclables to a city-owned garage or to county drop-off sites. Now the city wants to take over trash pick-ups and devise its own program for dealing with recyclables rather than wait for the county to finalize a plan. The city begins its budget process soon and needs hard figures to work with.

Taneytown isn't the only municipality frustrated by uncertainty about what the Carroll government's recycling program ultimately will look like. That is why the county commissioners should get their act together and nail down a practical plan as quickly as possible. Even if they decide to limit action to recyclables, they still must decide whether to go with one big hauler to cover the whole county or distribute the work among smaller haulers working with local recycling organizations.

Carroll County is working under a state mandate to reduce the region's solid waste stream 15 percent by 1994. There is agreement among the commissioners that recycling must be a major element in achieving that goal. Their task now is to figure out how to do it.

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