County Recycling Service To Reach 114,000 Homes

April 22, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

The county will extend curbside recycling to all 114,000 homes that receive county trash service by January, an official with the Bureau of Solid Waste said.

Recycling trucks, which pick up waste plastic, newspaper, glass, cardboard and aluminum, will stop at 50,800 homesby Aug. 1, said county recycling coordinator Amy Burdick. The remaining homes will be added before the end of the year, she said.

Under state law, by July 1994 the county must recycle 20 percent or more of the 460,000 tons of refuse it sends annually to the Millersville and Sudley landfills.

The county's 4-year-old recycling program, which serves 25,000 homes, diverts more than 6 percent of the waste stream out of the landfill, said Burdick, the outgoing presidentof the Maryland Recycling Coalition. The expanded program will easily exceed the 20 percent state-mandated goal, she said.

By removingtrash from the waste stream, recycling will extend the lives of the county's two landfills, officials said. Recycling and a proposed redesign will extend the life of the Millersville facility by 25 years, they say.

A group of neighboring homeowners, upset by the proposed extension as well as the contamination of several wells near the Millersville landfill, have demanded that the county close the Burns Crossing Road facility. They say that when the landfill opened in 1974, the county promised the facility would be closed and converted to a park by the 1990s.

Like most counties' recycling programs, Anne Arundel's concentrates on residential participation. Because the county does not provide trash pickup to businesses and apartment complexes, it has fewer options to encourage them to recycle, explained Libby Schecher, a project analyst with the Northeast Waste Disposal Authority.

The county recycling program -- one of the most expensive but easiest for residents to use, Schecher says -- asks them to place their recyclable wastes in a plastic bin at the curb once a week.

Residents have responded, said Ray Ehrlich, recycling specialist for Browning-Ferris Industries, which is under contract with the county to pickup and process recyclable materials.

"The school kids, in particular, are really excited about it, and they are taking that home with them," Ehrlich said. "Recycling is definitely going to be part of ourlives for the coming years."

As the county expands its curbside recycling, it will close its 2-year-old, $137,000 plant at Millersville, where it sorted the recycled products by type before sending them off to market, Burdick said. The county plant, the first "materials-recovery facility" in the state, sorted about 3,500 tons of material annually.

To collect, package and market the products, the county will rely instead on private trash companies -- primarily BFI and Eastern Waste Industries, Burdick said.

BFI has a $4 million processing plant in Elkridge that will serve Howard and Anne Arundel. Eastern Waste also has its own plant.

Their investment is a sign, officials say, that the depressed recycling markets will turn around.

Recycling markets have become glutted as jurisdictions around the state and country have begun their own programs, causing concern among some sectors about the future of recycling, Ehrlich said. But technology and industrial development is catching up with consumer interest in recycling, he said.

One of the most difficult problems is marketing waste newspapers, Ehrlich said. But six de-inking plants are under development around the country and should be recycling newsprint by themid-1990s, he said.

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