Task force calls for 50% recycling Goal established for end of decade

January 07, 1993|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,Staff Writer

Maryland should boost recycling in the state to 50 percent of all household and business refuse by the end of the decade, a state task force said yesterday.

Another recommendation was that citizens have more say in where controversial new trash incinerators and landfills are placed.

The task force -- 24 state and local officials, environmentalists and industry executives -- unveiled an accord aimed at reforming how Maryland handles solid waste.

The 11-page agreement, released at a news conference in Annapolis, was the product of five days of closed-door negotiations during the past two months.

Robert Perciasepe, state environment secretary, pledged to carry out the task force's recommendations, but he said his department may need more inspectors and, in some cases, new laws or regulations.

The task force agreed that government and business should voluntarily expand their recycling efforts beyond the 20 percent now required by state law by 1994. Another finding: The state needs to multiply its efforts to develop markets for recycled materials, some of which now wind up in landfills.

The report also urged localities to charge residents for waste disposal based on how much they generate, to prompt people to recycle.

The task force called for new statewide guidelines on placement of incinerators and landfills. The group also said that nearby residents need better protection from potential air and water pollution, noise, odors and traffic.

State Sen. Gerald W. Winegrad, D-Anne Arundel, called the accord a "historic document" and said the give-and-take that produced it should be a model for resolving other environmental disputes.

"There was a lot of anger and mistrust to get rid of among the group, and I think we got rid of most of it," he said. "If we follow what's in this document, it's an excellent plan."

But discord erupted toward the end of the news conference, illustrating the difficulty of reaching a consensus on disposal of solid waste. Residents of the Rosedale community in southeastern Baltimore County complained that the agreement did not go far enough in dealing with their concerns about a proposed soil recycling plant there, as well as a possible rubble fill and a new trash incinerator.

State officials also acknowledged that the building industry is likely to oppose a proposal to require all new rubble fills to have impermeable plastic liners to prevent pollution of ground water and household wells.

Such liners can cost up to $500,000 per acre, said Richard Collins, chief of waste for the Maryland Department of the Environment, but he said the industry can reduce the costs of the new requirement by recycling more construction debris.

Marylanders now recycle about 16 percent of the 6.9 million tons of municipal trash they generate each year, said Mr. Collins. The state has 48 landfills, including 16 that take construction debris. There also are five trash incinerators, with a sixth proposed.

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