Increased recycling is goal Panel's suggestions include new buyers for old bottles,cans

June 15, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

The Governor's Advisory Council on Recycling says Maryland should develop new markets for bottles, plastic and aluminum cans, and educate young people -- kindergarten through college -- about recycling and solid waste management to improve and sustain recycling efforts in the state.

Those are among 72 recommendations in a 126-page report by the Governor's Advisory Council on Recycling. Others include increasing the purchases of recycled products and encouraging businesses to recycle more.

"Did we write a complete treatise? No," said Harvey Alter, chairman of the 19-member council appointed three years ago by Gov. William Donald Schaefer. "We've written a textbook to get people started."

Some committee members said that, although the report makes "positive recommendations" to bolster recycling, it doesn't go far enough. For example, it makes no recommendations on packaging and doesn't address mandatory recycling or boosting recycling rates.

"I'm not completely happy with the report," said Sen. Gerald W. Winegrad, D-Anne Arundel. "We touch on many important aspects, but there's no recommendations for some things like packaging legislation. Some of [the council members] disagreed with that vehemently."

The council -- which included representatives from the recycling and packaging industries, environmentalists, and local and state governments -- sought ways to assist counties in improving and sustaining recycling and waste reduction.

Reviewing recycling programs across Maryland, the council said the mechanisms for achieving high recycling rates are in place but overall efforts are fragmented.

To provide leadership, the council said, the state should hire a recycling coordinator who would report directly to the governor and should increase funds to help local governments through the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Michael Gagliardo, a council member who is executive director of the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, said that developing recycling markets and educating the public "are probably the most important" recommendations.

"If you have markets for recyclable materials and you educate the public, the rest of the stuff will fall into place," Mr. Gagliardo said.

The state can create new markets by assuring the purchase of goods containing the highest proportion of recycled materials, helping local governments identify and use recycled materials and by luring recycling industries to Maryland, the report said.

But Joan Rohlfs, president of the Maryland Recyclers Coalition, a group of government and private recyclers, said the report lacks specifics. "It encourages the state to purchase recycled products and talks about economic development, but doesn't really address developing new markets," she said.

Ms. Rohlfs said other states offer tax incentives, low-interest loans and technology assistance.

The report notes those incentives but doesn't specifically recommend that Maryland should offer similar programs.

"There are many things Maryland could be doing but is not doing," she said. "The report stops short of giving those suggestions. These things are not new, they're just things Maryland isn't doing yet."

The report identifies education as an often underemphasized component of recycling.

The committee recommended putting recycling education into the curricula in public and private schools, offering solid waste management and recycling courses and programs at colleges, and requiring public schools to participate in county recycling programs.

"Education is very important," said Lori Scozzafava, chief of the state Department of the Environment's Office of Waste Minimization and Recycling.

"It's important that we see a strong commitment to recycling, and that resources need to be dedicated at the state and local levels if recycling is going to be successful."

State officials welcomed the recommendations and said they would review them to determine which ones could be used in state agencies. Some recommendations, such as those concerning more money for state programs, would have to be considered by lawmakers, officials said.

Marylanders are recycling about 19 percent of their trash, double the amount two years ago, Ms. Scozzafava said.

The rate is expected to grow as counties work to meet recycling goals set by the state, she said.

The council's report, however, doesn't call for any increase in recycling rates.

Chairman Alter said that setting rates is "political" and that they can be manipulated to include the recycling of other sorts of trash, such as automobiles and heavy iron -- that are not part of the municipal waste stream.

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