Trashing Recycling

March 18, 1994

It is unfortunate that a few thoughtless souls decided to dump large amounts of garbage and refuse in Carroll County's recycling bins. Since this trash "contaminates" the recyclable glass, metal and paper, Phoenix Recycling has been regularly rejecting deliveries. The contents of these bins had to be dumped in the landfill. To solve this problem, the commissioners are removing 14 of these large bins from locations around the county.

The absence of these receptacles may make it more difficult for some people to recycle their newspapers, glass bottles, plastic and aluminum cans, but the commissioners had little choice. Phoenix Recycling was perfectly within its rights to refuse these contaminated loads.

The Finksburg firm's contract with the county said it must take the recyclables only if the loads contain less than 10 percent non-recyclable materials. Given the large amounts of garbage in these bins, the deliveries were far exceeding this standard.

There were other problems as well. Carroll's towns found that these bins became mini-dumping grounds. Loose trash piled outside the bins would blow onto nearby properties and streets. Between the mess around the dumps and the added expense of assigning employees to pick up the garbage, it is not surprising that town governments asked the county to terminate this program.

In spite of this setback, the county's recycling efforts are not doomed. Even though these bins helped Carroll County meet the state goal of recycling 15 percent of its solid waste by January, the county will continue operating recycling centers at the Hoods Mill and Northern landfills.

The drawback is the limited hours at both locations. For people who like dropping off bags of bottles and cans at any hour, the landfill centers won't be as convenient.

Curbside pickups now will have to shoulder the burden of meeting the county's recycling goals. The county requires haulers to provide curbside recycling pickup, but it is a voluntary program and many residents don't bother to separate their garbage. As long as Carroll meets the state's recycling goals, this voluntary effort should suffice. If not, the commissioners will have to impose a mandatory system.

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