Where Howard Stands on Recycling HOWARD COUNTY

May 25, 1993

Howard and Anne Arundel counties are doing a better job of recycling than the numbers might indicate.

In an update on the state's new mandatory recycling law, officials recently pinpointed these as two of only six counties -- and the only two in the Baltimore area -- not already meeting the 20 percent recycling requirement. Statistics for the last six months of 1992 showed Howard recycling only 12 percent of its garbage and neighboring Anne Arundel only 13 percent. If they don't improve by Jan. 1, 1994 when the law takes full effect, they could face a state-imposed building moratorium, state officials warned.

What are Howard and Anne Arundel doing wrong? Actually, nothing.

Bear in mind that Baltimore City and Harford and Baltimore counties each receive a 5 percent "credit" for using incinerators.

Not to be diminished is the fact that Howard and Anne Arundel were among the first Maryland counties to start curbside recycling and are now expanding recycling and composting operations. Their fiscal 1994 budgets include money for new composting programs, which will greatly increase their recycling percentages.

Howard's budget includes funds to expand curbside recycling to all 58,000 residents who receive county trash pickup, as well as to the county's 17,000 apartments. Howard is a few steps behind Anne Arundel, which has extended curbside recycling to all 116,000 homes that get county trash service -- a fact not reflected in the 13 percent figure. Now its utilities department is preparing a wholesale recycling education campaign and targeting businesses. This is an area where much work remains to be done; relatively few businesses in either county are cooperating with recycling efforts.

The trash crisis is reaching the point where neither businesses nor residents are going to have a choice. Mandatory recycling laws and programs to charge per-bag or per-pound waste collection fees are being initiated elsewhere; it's just a matter of time before we see them here.

Howard and Anne Arundel counties may not be ready for such progressive change. But they deserve credit for what they've already done to meet this critical environmental challenge.

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