Towns lose 14 recycling containers

March 14, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Carroll County gave Sykesville a last-minute reprieve last week, but all the other towns and several other locations were set to lose their recycling bins over the weekend.

Last week, the county decided to remove the bins after complaints of trash mixed with recycled materials. So far, the county has not decided when or if Sykesville's sole recycling bin will be removed.

County Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said crews were to remove the 14 other 1-ton bins scattered around the county on Saturday.

"I explained that it would be impossible to come up with a plan," said Sykesville Town Manager James L. Schumacher. "We have agreed to help pay if any of our bin loads are contaminated" with trash.

"We have been hearing complaints since November, especially from Hampstead and New Windsor," said Mr. Lippy. "So much of the contents are mixed with garbage without any attempt to separate."

The county acted on those complaints, and recommendations from Comptroller Eugene Curfman, when officials announced the decision on Wednesday, said Mr. Lippy.

Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown said that the county placed the bins with the towns' cooperation and that "the towns should be consulted before they are removed."

New Windsor Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. said town officials should have been involved in the process and told about the decision by the commissioners themselves.

"Specifically, I am distressed about the lack of input the local officials have had in discussing this decision," Mr. Gullo said.

"It did not come from the commissioners in letter form or with a telephone call. Rather the agency in charge of the containers contacted me regarding when they were picking them up and asked if the town could post signs [for people] not to use them."

Several town officials said they have not experienced Hampstead's problems with litter left around the bin areas.

"We will end up with a problem without the bin," said Eugene Johnson Jr., Sykesville director of public works. "Ours stays in good shape and gets filled up with cans and bottles like it's supposed to."

In a letter to the commissioners, Mr. Gullo said: "It was my belief that the goal was to promote and encourage recycling. Taking the bins away does not forward this goal. This arrangement has scrapped a program due to the inherent flaw that a minority of people are misusing the containers -- similar to throwing the baby out with the bath water."

The most recent statistics show 708 tons of recyclables collected from bins from July through December.

The county also reports bin loads -- as many as nine of the last 10 -- are more than 40 percent contaminated with nonrecyclables.

"Last month, we had 15 contaminated loads," said Vinnie Legge, county recycling manager. "They had to be reloaded and hauled to the landfill [after the buyer of recyclables rejected them]."

Under the terms of the county's contract, Phoenix Recycling of Finksburg can reject any loads with more than 10 percent nonrecyclable material.

"Random inspections at Phoenix have shown most loads are about 40 percent contaminated," said Mr. Lippy. "The landfill then gets filled at worse-than-expected rates. We get no tipping fee. We are really the losers here."

Ms. Legge said, "Although some people do the right thing, others contaminate their efforts."

"We cannot tolerate a counter-productive, self-defeating mechanism to continue," said Mr. Lippy. "We are in danger every day we keep the bins out there."

Mayor Brown said he was aware of the problem in Hampstead but called removing Westminster's two bins "a wrong decision which sends the wrong message."

Educating residents through signs and public service announcements is "a better way to approach the problem," he said.

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