Recycling plan for Baltimore, county gets nod List of recommendations seeks to reduce waste, collection costs


An advisory panel that includes council members in Baltimore County and the city approved a recycling plan yesterday that would alter the way governments conduct business, how people handle trash and what consumers pay for everything from refrigerators to razor blades.

The joint Baltimore County-Baltimore City Task Force on Solid Waste Management backed a wide variety of recommendations, ranging from taxing such items as cars, kitchen appliances, razors and milk containers to requiring that area governments purchase recycled paper and any other available recycled materials needed to conduct business.

Committee members said the recommendations, which will be presented to both the city and county councils at a joint session Oct. 15, are aimed at stepping up recycling efforts and reducing the amount of trash hauled to area landfills in both jurisdictions.

"The next six months will tell the story of whether these recommendations fly or not," said Baltimore Councilman Joseph T. "Jody" Landers III, who is co-chairman of the committee.

Mr. Landers said the recommendations will require legislative action by the city and county councils. But he noted that most of them already enjoy wide support because they would reduce the amounts now paid by taxpayers for solid waste collection.

"I think these things are going to get a warm reception from both councils," he said.

Baltimore spends $56 million a year on solid waste and Baltimore County spends approximately $30 million, according to the committee's 23-page report.

Recommendations include:

* Regional purchase of recycled goods by all six governments in the Baltimore area to promote the sale of recycled paper and help make discounts available.

* Requiring the city and county to reduce the waste generated by residents by 50 percent over the next 10 years. State law already requires jurisdictions of more than 150,000 people to reduce waste volumes by 20 percent in the next four years.

* Establishing a "waste exchange network" that will allow firms that produce wastes to link up with commercial firms or industries that can reuse their waste materials.

The report proposes adding a surcharge to the tipping fees charged haulers at landfills so the fees can be deposited in a fund that would pay for recycling efforts.

The report also proposes setting up a solid waste enterprise fund and establishing independent authorities in the city and county to pay for and dispose of residential trash.

The report cited a fund established in 1961 in Seattle, where residents subscribe to a trash collection service and are given containers that are picked up weekly. Residents are charged based on the amounts they put in recycling bins and amounts they put in bins for disposal -- with those who recycle paying much less.

Trash amounts sent to landfills there dropped 25 percent in one year, the report said.

The Baltimore area joint committee, established in February to deal with how the two jurisdictions handle solid waste, left unresolved the thorny issues of what would be charged for trash hauling, the amount of the tipping fee surcharge and the exact tax that would be assessed on the sale of cars, appliances and disposable items.

Committee members said such questions must be addressed later by the councils in both jurisdictions. But members of the committee pledged to lobby their councils for enactment of the measures.

"I think the important thing is that these reports don't just get put on a shelf somewhere, but that we keep the momentum for this going," said County Council Chairman C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, a committee member.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad