County takes first step toward mandatory recycling Ordinance would enable swift action

August 04, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Recycling glass, plastic and newspapers will remain voluntary in Carroll -- for now -- but the county commissioners yesterday set the stage to move swiftly to mandatory recycling.

The commissioners directed their staff to draft an ordinance that would allow them to enact mandatory recycling by resolution, without the usual advertising and public hearing.

However, the commissioners will be required to advertise and hold a public hearing on the proposed enacting ordinance, county officials said. A hearing date has not been set.

Reviewing the county's recycling rates yesterday, the commissioners said they weren't ready to begin a mandatory program. However, they said they wanted to be able to move to a mandatory program quickly if the county's recycling rate drops.

"I have reservations about putting [a mandatory program] into effect," Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said the proposed enabling ordinance would warn residents that the commissioners are thinking about a mandatory program.

"I still feel it's real important that we make people know where the price of the tipping fee is going. . . . I truly believe that if people see that, they will want to recycle," she said.

Carroll's tipping fee, the charge for dumping refuse at the landfill, is $40 a ton.

County officials said the tipping fee is expected to rise in the next few years to meet increasing landfill and trash disposal costs.

Carroll residents recycled 21 percent of their trash in June, the most recent month for which figures are available. Officials attribute the relatively high rate to the fact that yard waste is being composted, a form of recycling, instead of being buried with other refuse at Carroll landfills.

During the first six months of 1993, residents recycled about 17 lTC percent of their trash. Under state law, the county is required to recycle 15 percent of its trash by 1994.

County officials have voiced concerns that the rate -- which has fluctuated from 9 percent to 21 percent since curbside recycling began last summer -- may decline as the amount of yard waste collected and diverted from landfills drops in the fall and winter.

Comptroller Eugene C. Curfman told the commissioners yesterday that as previously unreported recycling efforts of businesses are made known to the county, rates will continue to rise. Recently received reports boosted the six-month figure to 18 percent.

Under its voluntary program, the county requires trash haulers to provide curbside pickup of recyclables to residents but does not require residents to participate.

The county's municipalities -- except Sykesville -- have either mandatory or voluntary curbside programs.

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