Answering a Burning Question

April 26, 1994

The preliminary recommendation of Carroll County's Energy Advisory Committee against building an incinerator in the county makes a great deal of sense -- at this particular time. But that recommendation may have to be reviewed next year once the Baltimore Metropolitan Council releases its regional solid waste plan. Depending on the recommendations, Carroll's current position on incineration may have to change.

After months of review, field trips and discussions, the question remains open as to how Carroll will dispose of its garbage in the future. The committee seems to be leaning toward supporting a yard-waste composting facility and possibly a composting plant that would take general refuse. These options are seen as more cost-effective and less damaging to the environment.

The committee clearly favors increasing the county's recycling efforts through a variety of incentives, such as offering payments to haulers linked to the amount of recyclable material they collect. The subcommittee charged with drafting the final report needs to explore these suggestions in detail.

Recycling does offer the county a relatively inexpensive partial solution to its solid waste problems. It is time that the commissioners looked at recycling as more than a state-mandated requirement; this committee can assist in that effort.

The question of incineration, meanwhile, is not closed for the county. If the Baltimore Metropolitan Council calls for building a regional incinerator, Carroll may have to contribute money and garbage to make it work. The metro council has been wrestling for some months with the politically explosive issue of whether there should be a regional incinerator and where it should be located and has yet to reach a conclusion. The group hopes to have a recommendation by the end of this year.

A minority of citizens on the advisory committee opposes any incineration, whether located in Carroll or elsewhere in the region. This out-of-hand rejection of incineration is unrealistic, particularly when the Baltimore metropolitan area is exhausting its landfill space and the effectiveness of alternative disposal methods, such as large-scale composting, is uncertain. In the future, the question of incineration will come up again; next time, the answer may be different.

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