Bel Air resident Sharon Penrose started recycling her trash a year ago. Now, she says, "I just can't stop."
Her enthusiasm for recycling is one reason Penrose volunteered to be one of the county's "block captains," whose mission is to inform neighbors about the voluntary trash recycling program that starts tomorrow.
The captains' duties include distributing blue, plastic bags to hold recyclables and handing out pamphlets to neighbors so they'll understand clearly how Harford's residential curbside recycling program will work.
Of her experience so far, Penrose said, "The people I've met are very receptive. The people I haven't met -- who are probably working -- may find it a little hard to recycle at first, but it's really not as hard as it seems."
The recycling program calls for residents to put glass, metal and plastic containers in blue, plastic bags, and then leave the bags in their regular trash collection spot on days their hauler specifies. Newspapers will be collected too, but should be bagged separately.
The start of the program will mean higher trash collection fees for most consumers as haulers pass on a new cost to them -- the county's $35-per-ton 0"tipping" fee. Haulers will have to pay the fee for each ton of trash dropped off at the county's central dump, Scarboro Landfill, or the waste-to-energy plant at
Aberdeen Proving Ground, where trash is burned.
"We're recommending that people shop the haulers," said Larry Klimovitz, director of administration. "Some haulers are doubling their usual monthly rates," to between $14 and $16 a month.
Homeowners now pay an average of $8 a month for trash removal.
"The average household generates about 1.25 to 1.5 tons of trash a year. If you recycle 20 percent -- that's about 1 ton of trash a year that the hauler has to haul away and pay $35 a ton for at the landfill."
Klimovitz said the fee would add about $3 a month to a resident's trash bill.
But he said some haulers are adding more than $3 to their monthly bills because they are offering an extra service -- two trash pickups a week and one recycling pickup a week, instead of one trash and one recycling pickup each week as allowed under the recycling program.
PD Haulers will take the recyclables to a drop-off station near the
Scarboro Landfill in Dublin. The materials will then be reloaded on trucks that will carry them to the new Browning-Ferris Industries Inc. recycling plant in Elkridge. There, the recyclables will be processed for marketing.
Becky Joesting-Hahn, Harford's assistant recycling coordinator, said the recycling program wouldn't have much chance at initial success if Penrose and about 150 other residents hadn't volunteered to educate neighbors about the program.
Don't be surprised if your children start talking about recycling this week either. Some schools are chipping in to educate kids, said Joesting-Hahn.
Students in kindergarten, first and second grades received recycling coloring books aimed at teaching them about recycling, while students in grades three through five received activity books with the same theme.
All public elementary school students have been given pamphlets to take home, explaining the county's recycling program.
"Our hope is that the students will take this information home with them. There are 17,000 elementary students in the county, and if even half took them home, that means 9,000 homes got the brochures," said Joesting-Hahn.
Bob Earnst, the county's recycling coordinator, said he doesn't expect the recycling movement to really take off until the fall because of the summer vacation season.
But he and other county administrators are hopeful the county can mirror the success of Bel Air's trial recycling program. It has an 80 percent participation rate.
Earnst hopes to see a 60 percent recycling rate from the county's 67,300 households.
"Changing people's habits is extremely difficult -- it's one of the .. most difficult things you can do," said Klimovitz.
RECYCLING: WHAT AND HOW
Materials accepted.. .. .. ..preparation
Glass jars and bottles,.. .. Rinse thoroughly
all colors.. .. .. .. .. .. .Labels can remain on
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Put in a blue bag
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Can be mixed with
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..other containers
Plastic bottles & jugs.. .. .Rinse thoroughly
with numbers 1 and 2.. .. .. Labels can remain on
inside a triangle on.. .. .. Flatten, if possible
the bottom.. .. .. .. .. .. .Put in a blue bag
Aluminum & tin cans.. .. .. .Rinse thoroughly
Not accepted:.. .. .. .. .. .Flatten, if possible
Aluminum foil, pans, .. .. ..Put in a blue bag
chairs, window frames,.. .. .Can be mixed
scrap metal.. .. .. .. .. .. with other containers
Clean & dry newspapers.. .. .Separate in blue bags
Corrugated cardboard.. .. .. Do not mix
Cereal and other food boxes
* More information on program:
+ RECYCLING HOT-LINE 836-9371
So: Harford County government