Commissioners seek law to require home recycling

June 09, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Carroll County Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said yesterday that the county's governing body has asked its lawyers to draft an ordinance that would require county residents to recycle items such as newspapers, plastics and glass.

Her announcement came as Westminster city government leaders pressed the county commissioners to stimulate recycling rather than build an incinerator that would burn trash to generate energy. The commissioners and City Council members met yesterday to discuss local issues.

The commissioners decided last year not to require recycling.

But the percentage of trash voluntarily recycled by county residents is slightly more than half that recycled by Westminster residents under a mandatory program.

City dwellers recycled an average of 24 percent of their trash in the first 10 months of the fiscal year that began in July 1992. County residents' average was 14 percent.

Mrs. Gouge also aligned with opponents of an incinerator in Carroll that would burn trash to generate energy. An incinerator is under study by a commissioner-appointed citizens panel, which has until mid-1994 to deliver recommendations to the commissioners.

"We won't have enough [trash] to fill an incinerator if we recycle properly," Mrs. Gouge told her colleagues during a lively discussion yesterday. She predicted that Carroll would have to import trash from other counties to keep an incinerator going.

Mrs. Gouge's stance puts her at odds with the other two commissioners. Donald I. Dell and Elmer Lippy declined to commit themselves, but they praised incinerators as environmentally sound and efficient.

Councilwoman and incinerator opponent Rebecca A. Orenstein warned the commissioners that county residents are forming groups to oppose the incinerator.

"You all are taking a political suicide pill," she said.

Mr. Dell sees an incinerator at the Northern landfill near Reese as an economic development tool. In his vision, the incinerator would use effluent from a Finksburg sewage treatment plant as coolant, eliminating the problem of disposing of treated effluent without harming nearby Liberty Reservoir. The sewage plant is needed for his dream of an industrial corridor along Route 140.

Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown cited a national cost comparison that found tipping fees at incinerators to be generally higher than those at landfills.

But Mr. Dell called the comparison "misleading" because it stated that incinerators have a 30 percent ash residue. The figure represents weight rather than volume, but volume "is what you bury," the commissioner said.

Mr. Lippy said he won't make a final decision until the committee issues its recommendations but that he sees incinerators as a technical triumph and "no environmental threat."

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