Rehrmann seeks tax break for companies that recycle

September 13, 1992|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

More Clorox might come in bottles made of recycled plastic if Maryland offered an income tax credit to companies investing in the special equipment required to process and use the so-called "post-consumer resin."

Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann Thursday urged Harford's seven-member state legislative delegation Thursday to support her proposed bill, which calls for an income tax break of up to 40 percent for companies that make that investment.

Mrs. Rehrmann's draft bill, which still needs a sponsor, is a key element in her General Assembly action wish list.

"I realize how difficult it is any time you talk about a tax credit. But if we don't do something, we won't be able to develop a market for recycled materials," said Mrs. Rehrmann, noting that Harford's own recycling plans calls for the collection of used plastic containers. Mrs. Rehrman said she and James D. Fielder, Harford's economic development director, have been working with officials at The Clorox Co., which just opened a plant in Perryman, to develop a plan that would make using recycled goods more cost-effective for big companies.

A spokesman for the Oakland, Calif.-based company said Clorox, which was the first bleach manufacturer to use recycled plastic, supports Mrs. Rehrmann's proposal. Five percent of the company's packaging contains recycled plastic.

"We're trying to do it," said Mark Marymee, a spokesman for company. "But it costs us 20 percent more to purchase the equipment to handle the post-consumer resin. Plus, it costs an additional 15 percent more to buy the PCR than virgin resin."

VTC "Eight other states have similar laws that offer tax breaks," said Mr. Marymee. "Something like that in Maryland makes the

economy more viable and would encourage other companies to do business there, as well as keep more plastic out of the landfills."

Del. Donald C. Fry, D-District 35A and chairman of the Harford delegation, said he supports the idea behind Mrs. Rehrmann's legislation but the draft bill she showed legislators Thursday is too narrow.

Mrs. Rehrmann's proposed bill would affect only companies that could use recycled plastic. Clorox, which makes its own containers for bleach, is the only company with a plant in Harford that would benefit from the legislation.

"You can't pass a bill like that for a single industry," said Mr. Fry. He added that he had discussed similar legislation designed to create markets for recycled goods with Del. Ronald Guns, D-District 36, chairman of the House Environmental Matters Committee.

"I certainly think it's a worthwhile idea, but I can tell you this is not going to be the year for tax credits," said Mr. Fry, referring to the state's projected $446 million deficit.

Mrs. Rehrmann's initial requests for action from Harford's state delegates and senators included only a few items that would depend on financial help from the state.

She did ask the delegates and senators to submit two requests for state bonds, including one to cover the costs of converting an unused county building to a shelter for battered women.

Mrs. Rehrmann said the building, which is within Bel Air town limits, could be leased to the county's Sexual Assault-Spouse Abuse Recovery Center for $1 a year and used to temporarily house up to six women and children.

The county has not done so, however, because the building contains lead paint.

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