One man's trash Reuse center good idea to recycle discards, extend disposal site's life.

June 14, 1996

PLEASE CALL IT reusing, or recycling, or landfill capacity conservation, but not scavenging. There's an unseemly connotation to that word, a disparaging effect.

But by all means participate in this new effort by Carroll County to allow residents to trade trash at the Northern Landfill on Route 140 near Westminster, reducing the volume of refuse that must be buried and extending the useful lives of common castoffs.

While rubbish rummaging certainly won't appeal to everyone, the decision by the county commissioners to approve a reusing center (at the former recycling center) is a welcome one.

Discards can be dropped off or picked up at the staffed site, before they are declared trash and dumped into the landfill.

Scavenging at the dump is legally prohibited under the county's landfill plan, which is approved by the state. That has blocked previous attempts to allow citizens to recover useful items from the facility.

Workers at county landfills were criminally charged with stealing valuable metals from the dumps two years ago, and scavengers have been evicted from the landfills. But items deposited at the new reuse center will not be considered trash, since the center is not a landfill.

After studying a similar operation in Prince William County, Va., public works staff recommended that the idea be adopted in Carroll. Previously, staff urged that a comprehensive plan for managing the county's waste stream be adopted before allowing scavenging. But the Northwest Maryland Waste Disposal Authority last month advised cautious delay on any ambitious treatment schemes in the metro region.

No date is set for opening the center, and details remain to be resolved. They include liability waivers for persons taking used materials from the site, listing the types of acceptable reuse items and preventing possible traffic backups onto the state highway. Safety and staffing issues must also be addressed. And charitable thrift shops want priority in depositing and collecting useful goods there, as well.

Reusers should not expect to find a pot of gold among others' discards. Most likely, they'll find a serviceable lawn chair or a worn-out appliance with usable parts or furniture that has seen better days. But there's no reason to bury it when someone can use it.

Pub Date: 6/14/96

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