The town is earning high marks for its participation in the county'sonly curbside recycling project. The bag system, used to collect recyclables, is failing the course.
The project began about 18 monthsago, with residents filling reusable plastic bags with recyclable glass, aluminum and plastic. At the start of the project, the town useda state grant to purchase about 1,400 bags, at a cost of $1 each.
Wednesdays, two Haden Trash Removal trucks arrive in town. One picks up the regular trash. The other follows closely and collects the bags, leaving the homeowner a laundered, empty bag.
Haden, contract hauler for the town since 1988, charges about $1,200 per month for regular trash pickup. The Baltimore County company instituted the recycling program at no extra cost.
Haden now wants to trash the bagsand retool the community
with plastic containers.
"The projecthas a lot of merit, and we have seen significant results," said Jackson S. Haden Jr., owner of Phoenix Recycling, Inc. "We need to rethink the bag system, though, it's expensive, inefficient and counterproductive."
The bags are not durable, must be laundered after each use and have disappeared. The bin system also would be easier for the haulers, he said.
"The bags are sealed and often contain items we can't recycle," he said. "The haulers can sort through the containers right on the site and leave non-recyclables behind."
Gary M. Grimes Sr., executive vice president of Haden Trash Removal, said the use of bins would enable haulers to move through town more quickly. He added the free-standing 20-gallon bins, which cost about $6 each, wouldbe more durable and simpler for homeowners to clean.
"We have four men and two vehicles involved in a five-hour operation," he said. "The bins could save us time and money."
Union Bridge needs about $3,000 for the switch. Councilman Bret D. Grossnickle, a member of theRecycling Committee, said the town asked the county for the money and got little response.
"We are recycling about 20 percent of our trash now, and I believe the great response will continue," he said. "People here have changed their everyday routines to support this effort. I hate to ask them to pay for containers now."
The county is caught in a budget crunch, he said, but did offer the town a recyclingDumpster, similar to ones in other towns.
"Those bins cost about $5,000 and the contents have to be transported two to three times a week," said Haden. "Union Bridge is only asking for a third of that cost."
Grossnickle said his committee is exploring other funding options, possibly asking town businesses to donate the $3,000.
The town recycles about a 1 1/2 tons a week or 78 tons a year, said Grimes,saving about $1,200 a year in tipping fees.