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Advertise on the Tentacle

March 25, 2009

Improving Recycling

Michael Kurtianyk

We can and should do a better job of recycling here in Frederick County. Recycling means separating and collecting materials for processing and remanufacturing into new products, and the use of the products to complete this cycle.


Recycling is a process by which materials, once used, are transformed into new products. We can always try to reuse them once again rather them discarding as waste.


Recycling takes place when the materials such as glass, paper, aluminum, steel, plastic, etc., are sorted and collected. Then it is manufactured into new products in a variety of ways. The process minimizes the total waste products all over the world and also helps economically. Currently, the county offers curbside pickup to only about 54,000 households. The pickups occur every other week.


Frederick County’s Single Stream recycling program is a good start. In this program, the county provided 65-gallon containers to residents, allowing us to put all of our recyclables in one container, instead of sorting them. In addition, this new program is extending collection service to thousands of households that did not have it before, and is expanding the type and number of items that are collected.


This “single stream” method is easy and convenient. The county bought 55,000 containers for about $2.75 million and will be purchasing 20,000 more at the same rate, about $50 per cart. The purchase price cost was paid through a loan from the county's water and sewer fund to its solid waste fund. The loan will be repaid over five years, funded mostly by the county's system benefit charge on property tax bills, a flat fee on the property tax bill to support our basic solid waste infrastructure.


Michael Givens, president of American Disposal Systems, is taking that extra step to help. Specifically, he and his company have offered to donate services to support and enhance the recycling program in the county's public schools. According to a recent article in The Frederick News-Post, Mr. Givens “has the manpower and equipment to deal with about a dozen schools on a trial basis.”


Currently, there is some recycling in schools. Each school has a large container for paper and cardboard. It's up to each teacher to provide a container in the classroom. Under the current proposal, Mr. Givens recommended that schools help to recycle aluminum cans and plastic containers by placing large outdoor containers, or wheeled carts, in each school. His company would haul the recyclables to the county's transfer station at the Reich’s Ford Road landfill. From there, they would be taken to a materials recovery facility in Elkridge, MD.


This is impressive. For someone to step up and save the county schools upwards of $90,000 and make a difference in our community is a cause for celebration. Kudos to Mr. Givens and his company; would that more companies step in and think globally, while acting locally.


Before the implementation of single stream recycling, the county’s recycling rate was about 44 percent (the calculation for 2008, based on the way Maryland measures such things). With little effort, all of us can take steps to help increase this percentage. Let’s hope the county continues to pursue single stream collection to multi-family residences as well.


Furthering this line of thinking, we should all consider going to the “Waste Not!” Expo scheduled for this Saturday, March 28, at Frederick High School, beginning at 9:30 A.M. It appears that this will not be a dry, stuffy exposition. The approach will be a more light-hearted fare, intending to be informative and engaging, mixing music and other activities with speakers, information tables, and the like.


The group’s Mission Statement is simple: “Through a fun and educational celebration, the purpose of the Waste Not! Expo is to inspire and encourage everyone to reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost most of the materials they currently discard.”


The keynote speaker will be Eric Lombardi, president of Eco-Cycle, a Boulder, CO, company that works with communities and schools to reduce waste and increase resource recovery.


Other speakers include Rod Muir, of the Sierra Club's National Waste Diversion Campaign; Gene Hejmanowski, retired director of Penn Township’s (PA) Pay as You Throw trash collection system; and Brenda Platt, of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, an organization that works with communities to find affordable ways to cut waste.


Most of the vendors will be local: ReStore, which uses recycled building materials – textile recycling for insulation and other purposes – and the Frederick County Department of Solid Waste Management. The Master Gardeners of Frederick County will demonstrate composting, and New Market Elementary School will have information on its new composting system.


There will also be activities for children (always a plus for me!), including face painting, a movie, and a service learning project.


The vendor I am most looking forward to meeting is ArrowBio. County officials are exploring the firm's trash disposal scheme, which includes a high-tech composting system, as a possible alternative to trash incineration.


Check out the Expo Organizer’s website:


Be there!


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