'Sorry' sticker to give residents tips on how to recycle right

August 30, 1992|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Staff Writer

Trying to get people to recycle is hard enough. Trying to get them to do it right is even harder, as county officials are finding.

Then again, you don't want to scold people who put unrecyclable material by the curb for pickup. Harford's recycling program is voluntary, so a put-upon resident can easily say "phooey" to the whole idea.

So, as politely as possible, private trash haulers will begin Oct. 1 rejecting the blue bags containing recyclables if they are not prepared properly.

The haulers, working with county recycling coordinators, are devising "sorry" stickers that will gingerly explain why a resident's recyclables weren't picked up.

"It's my opinion they will only get a 'sorry' sticker once or twice, then they'll do it right," said Becky Joesting-Hahn, the county's assistant recycling coordinator.

The most common recycling faux pas, so to speak, is improperly tied bags, which, for example, can cause an unwanted mixing of newspaper and glass. Other problems are unacceptable material such as cut up plastic wading pools, used pizza boxes or used plastic foam coolers -- being set out for collection.

Browning-Ferris Industries, the company that processes the recyclables and markets them for reuse, is sending about 15 tons -- about 10 percent of recyclables collected -- of unacceptable material back to Harford each week.

The rejected material is burned in the county's incinerator or buried in its landfill.

BFI's contract to process Harford's recyclables, which pays the company $61 per ton, specifies that it can reject a maximum of 10 percent of the material. County officials say as much as 14 percent of the material collected could be rejected by BFI if the contract allowed it.

The six private haulers collecting the material from as many as 67,000 households have so far been taking all bags, no matter how they are prepared.

Come October, the haulers will put bright pink stickers on unacceptable bags and leave them at curbside.

The stickers will have a checklist of reasons the bags were rejected.

PREPARATION FOR RECYCLING

MATERIALS... ... ... ... ... ... ... .PREPARATION... ... ..

GLASS

Glass jars and bottles,.. ... ... ... ... Rinse thoroughly.

all colors.. ... ... ... ... ... ... . Labels can remain on.

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...Put in a blue bag...

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...Can be mixed with...

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. other containers... .

PLASTIC

Narrow-neck plastic bottles and jugs.. Rinse thoroughly... .

with numbers 1 and 2... ... ... ... .. Labels can remain on.

inside a triangle on... ... ... ... .. Flatten, if possible.

the bottom... ... ... ... ... ... ... Put in a blue bag... .

ALUMINUM

Aluminum & tin cans... ... ... ... ... Rinse thoroughly... .

Not accepted:... ... ... ... ... ... . Flatten, if possible.

Aluminum foil, pans,... ... ... ... .. Put in a blue bag...

chairs, window frames,... ... ... ... Can be mixed with... .

scrap metal... ... ... ... ... ... ... other containers... .

PAPER PRODUCTS

Clean and dry newspapers... ... ... . Separate in blue bags.

Corrugated cardboard... ... ... ... . Do not mix... ... ...

Not accepted:

Glossy magazines, telephone books,

cereal and other food boxes

For more information: call the county's recycling hot line, 836-9371,

or Ms. Joesting-Hahn, 638-3417.

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