20% goal near for recycling But county lags behind others

November 05, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

Howard County should have no trouble meeting its state-mandated 20 percent recycling goal by the beginning of 1994, officials say, but it still lags behind other metropolitan-area jurisdictions in a recent state report.

The county's recycling rate jumped to 18 percent for the first half of 1993, compared with 12 percent for the last half of 1992, according to a report by the Maryland Department of the Environment's Recycling Division, which was sent to county officials last month.

The difference came mainly from improved voluntary reporting by businesses of their individual recycling efforts, said John J. O'Hara, director of the county's Bureau of Environmental Services.

"We control the residential sector; it's not that difficult to quantify. We have to rely on the commercial sector to tell us what they're doing," he said.

That makes reporting difficult, because businesses must hire private contractors to remove recyclables.

On the other hand, the county government collects recyclables from all of the county's detached houses and townhouses, so officials can easily figure out what percentage of residential waste is being recycled.

The final leap over the 20 percent goal will come through new curbside recycling, said Linda Fields, manager of the county's program.

"We added 20,000 houses in June and July, and we expect that's going to bring us 4 [percent] to 5 percent higher," she said.

Current figures are still being collected, but for the period from January through June, the county received about 84,000 tons of waste at the Alpha Ridge Landfill in Marriottsville, and could account for about 19,000 tons of recycled materials.

That put recycling at 18.4 percent of the total of 103,000 tons.

During the previous six months, the county buried about 86,500 tons of waste and accounted for about 13,100 tons of recycled material, amounting to 12 percent of about 99,600 tons.

The state report for the first half of 1993 puts Howard behind all other major suburban counties in its recycling efforts.

Prince George's County had the best numbers, with 31 percent of its waste being recycled, while Harford County weighed in with 23 percent, followed by 22 percent each for Carroll and Anne Arundel counties. Figures for Baltimore and Montgomery County, which had already met their 20 percent goals in the previous period, were not available in time for the October report.

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