Ten months after Earth Day, the county's efforts to recycle seem to be hitting a plateau, fear members of the Recycling Committee.

"There's not a clear commitment from the board for what recycling will look like in the county long-term," said James Thomas, a Westminster acupuncturist who chairs the Recycling Committee, which is appointed by the County Commissioners.


Thomas pointed to the study released this month by a consultant working with Carroll, Frederick, Howard and Washington counties. The study lists eight options for how the counties can work together on a regional solid waste plan that could include spending up to $300 million on a waste-to-energy incinerator or plant to turn garbage into pellets other industries can buy and burn as fuel.

"I don't hear that same momentum and intensity around recycling," Thomas said of the government-commissioned study.


The elected officials from all the counties still must meet to decide whether they will join on a plan, and if so, which one.

Commissioner Elmer Lippy reaffirmed the county's commitment to recycling as part of any waste plan.

"Recycling is an idea whose time has come, and we should keep that at it's peak," said Lippy, who said he doesn't dispose of so much as an olive jar without putting it into the appropriate recycling bin at home.

Naomi Benzil, another member of the committee, said that building an incinerator would take a lot of money, but recycling requires more public education.

"To deal with recycling, we're going to have to change people's behavior, and that's a difficult job," Benzil said.

Thecounty now recycles 6 percent of its solid waste, but must get that figure up to 15 percent by January 1994 to meet state law. So far, all plans are for voluntary recycling.