Howard County residents are recycling more than ever, but the economics of the county's recycling program have grown HTC shaky, according to the county's annual report on recycling released this week.
Howard's recycling rate climbed to 32.3 percent in 1996, a record, thanks to a surge in recycling after County Executive Charles I. Ecker imposed a limit of four cans a week on trash collection last summer.
But higher costs for recyclables -- combined with lower costs at landfills -- have called the economics of recycling into question.
"It's still cheaper than trash," said county recycling chief Linda Fields. "Not by much, but it's still cheaper."
The report says recycling has saved Howard County more than $1 million a year for the last three years. But the savings are dropping to $28,000 a year.
It is more expensive to recycle cans, bottles and yard waste than to ship them to a landfill, according to county officials. But it is still cheaper to recycle mixed paper, the biggest recyclable by tons, than to send it to a landfill.
The report says the county soon will be spending an average of $32.10 on each ton of recyclables, compared with $33 for each ton of trash sent to the King George County Landfill in Virginia, which the county began using in March. Before that, the county was spending $60 a ton to send its waste to Alpha Ridge Landfill in Marriottsville.
Other findings include:
Residential recycling grew by 14 percent in 1996, to 34,617 tons.
Business recycling fell by nearly 10 percent, to 47,601 tons.
Howard County government recycled 263 tons of office paper, an increase of 34 percent.
Recycling in Howard apartments and condominiums grew to 1,254 tons, up 73 percent.
Pub Date: 5/15/97