From real estate contracts to marketing materials for homes, Long & Foster Real Estate in Edgewater uses a lot of paper.
Rather than toss out about five reams of paper waste a week, employees load the waste into the car of a co-worker, who takes it home and dumps it into her recycling bin.
Anne Arundel County does not pick up recycling for businesses, forcing them to make similar efforts or pay for a private service.
That will soon change as the county begins its first curbside recycling program for small businesses, allowing them to pay as little as $75 a year for weekly service.
"We definitely would love to have that," said Elsie Davison, the Long & Foster office's manager.
Until now, said James J. Pittman, deputy director of waste management, "there was not any incentive" for small businesses to recycle, but the Department of Public Works needed a way to make up the expense of driving extra routes.
"We did not have the authority to charge small businesses," he said.
Local business owners met with County Executive John R. Leopold last year to express interest in recycling, a similar form of which is offered in Howard County. The county passed legislation, paving the way for the new program.
Small businesses will be "a very important part" of boosting the county's recycling rate from 30 percent to 50 percent, Leopold said Wednesday at the unveiling of a new recycling initiative.
County officials previewed their $250,000 ad campaign, called the "50/50 Challenge," which is aimed at increasing residents' awareness of what they can and should recycle.
It includes a commercial on the county's Web site, www. aacounty.org, which will air in the next few weeks on local TV stations; the launch of the Web site www.recyclemore often.org, which will promote the ease of recycling; and recycling logos on county vehicles.
The goal is to save energy, reduce pollution and extend the life of the Anne Arundel County landfill. County officials estimate that 100,000 tons of trash is deposited at the 564-acre Millersville Landfill each year. It holds more than 12 million cubic yards of garbage.
The county's curbside collections of paper, cardboard, cans, bottles and jars, and yard waste serves about 145,000 single-family and townhouse households, according to 2004 statistics. The county does not provide collection services to apartment or condominium complexes. Residents of those dwellings are encouraged to use the county's three drop-off facilities for recycling.
Bob Burdon, president of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, said businesses will need little encouragement to recycle with a reasonably cheap, easy way to do it.
"Businesses are becoming more and more aware of their recycling responsibility," Burdon said.