This all started with a cardboard box that a recycling-minded colleague brought in several months ago. He plunked it down between two desks in The Howard County Sun office.

"We're going to recycle our office paper," he announced. So, in went press releases and computer paper and notices and spoiled copies from the office copier. Within twomonths, the box was nearly full.

I hauled it over to the MoRT truck in the Golden Triangle Shopping Center one blistering day in late May. A MoRT person took the box, looked inside and said, "That's office paper. We don't take office paper."

Oh. I hauled the box back across the road and explained the situation to the recycling-minded colleague, who responded with an ever-so-blase shrug. So, we kept stuffing press releases, etc., into the box.

In the nature of these things, the box became fuller and fuller. The colleague affirmed that he would take care of the situation, though he didn't know how.

At that point, it occurred to us to ask why the mobile recycling station couldn't accept office paper. Theanswer supplied by recycling program coordinator Randy Brown is thatnow it can.

A contract between the county government and Mid-Atlantic Recycling Corp. of Baltimore became effective July 1, allowing MoRT to accept a variety of papers not previously eligible for the county's recycling program.

Magazines, junk mail, telephone books, letters, colored paper, photocopier paper, manila file folders, books, brown paper bags, paperboard and corrugated boxes are among the papers that county residents can now take to recycling collection sites.

The recycling staff asks that papers be clean and dry, boxes flattened and mixed paper either in brown bags or bundled and tied with string. Staples on papers are OK, but you'll get a "No thanks" if you show up with cereal, cookie or pizza boxes, papers coated with plastic or wax or contaminated with food, animal waste or oil.

Newspapers have been a staple of the recycling program, but the change in contractors will allow MoRT to accept glossy newspaper inserts that in the past could not be recycled, Brown

said. He said that in the fiscalyear that ended June 30, the county had contracts with several haulers who took newspapers to one of three Baltimore-area recycling companies.

The new contract stipulates that when the price of unbaled mixed paper reaches $1 per ton, Mid-Atlantic will reimburse Howard County 80 cents for every additional dollar the recycler earns on sales of paper from the county. The per-ton price is based on market figures from the Middle Atlantic region.

"The objective with Howard County was to have a place to take it and not to have to pay (recycling companies) to take it and to keep it out of the landfill. And I think we did that very well," Brown said.

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