When Baltimore County Executive Roger Hayden announced plans early this year to blanket the county with curbside recycling collections by 1995, the volunteers who had manned about a dozen drop-off stations on weekends cheered. The county, like Baltimore city and most of its suburban neighbors, was finally entering the late 20th century in refuse collection. It made little sense that residents had an easier (and cheaper) time throwing away their non-renewable garbage than getting rid of their recyclables. Besides, the more recyclables that depleted the limited life of the landfill, the higher the cost to the county.
Eventually, Carroll County will come to that same realization as its voluntary recycling program continues to run into problems.
In Hampstead, unattended recycling bins have become
repositories for all sorts of garbage and the mess around them is annoying residents. In Mount Airy, an effort to create a community compost pile to handle yard waste in Prospect Park became a smelly eyesore after people began tossing bags of trash, old furniture and other refuse there. And in Eldersburg, recycling bins had to be removed because of continued dumping problems.
Not only have some of these unmanned drop-off sites become unsightly, the recyclables have gotten contaminated. Phoenix Recycling, which handles Carroll County's recycling, has notified the commissioners that if it continues to receive contaminated collections, the company will begin imposing a surcharge on the county.
It is obvious that people who have cavalierly dumped trash in these bins have no concern for the recycling program or the difficulty their laziness causes. Unless those bins are monitored continuously, these thoughtless folks will ruin the voluntary recycling program.
If the Hampstead bins are ultimately removed along with those in neighboring towns, Carroll County will be forced to adopt a mandatory recycling program. The county is barely meeting the state requirement for recycling waste as it is. Reducing the number of drop-off stations where people can leave recyclables will only make meeting the goal that much more difficult.
Carroll County's top elected officials have opposed mandatory recycling as an unnecessary intrusion, but they may have to come around to the thinking of their fellow metropolitan government executives if the recycling drops there devolve into dumping grounds.