County Comment: March is Red Cross Month in Washington County

PHOTO CAP: March is Red Cross Month in Washington County (L-R) John Barr, volunteers Al Martin, Bob Carter

County Comment
March is Red Cross Month in Washington County
By Norman Bassett, Public Information Officer
Washington County, Maryland

In the regular meeting of the Washington County Board of County Commissioners on March 2nd, the Commissioners heard a final report on Curbside Recycling by Division of Environmental Management Deputy Director for Solid Waste Cliff Engle.
The report was the latest in a series of briefings on the costs and benefits of countywide residential recycling that began in 2009. The in-house study was spurred by a Commissioners' Goal to develop a comprehensive approach toward recycling and reduction of solid waste, and to ensure efficient waste removal and extend landfill life. Engle showed data indicating that residential recycling through drop-box programs increased by about 31% from 2007-2009, with cost per ton to haul and dispose of the recycled material up from $91 per ton to $120 per ton over the same period. Cost projections show increases through 2012 to $151 per ton, at a total cost to the County of $519,500.00.
The Curbside Recycling option evaluation focused on maximizing recycling while minimizing costs, looked at what works and doesn't work in other area programs, presented the solid waste plan goal of 50% recycling rate by 2020, and reviewed best residential recycling options for Washington County.
A program offered by RecycleBank that would offer incentives to homeowners for recycling trash was reviewed. That program would provide coupons from participating merchants to offset costs associated with home pickup. 95 gallon containers would be recommended for the program, Engle said, allowing for bi-weekly pickup.
Haulers would agree to partner with RecycleBank, install radio frequency identification tag readers and container loading equipment and guarantee performance. Cost would be from $3.50 to $5 per unit per month, or $42 to $60 per unit per year not including the RecycleBank option.
The County would also have to purchase the containers, at a cost of $38 to $45 each depending on size. Viable RecycleBank service areas would have to contain 10,000 homes or more.
The City of Hagerstown and Town of Williamsport already have programs of this type in place.
Data shown indicated the impact on the life of the landfill would be a minimum of 1.5 years and a maximum of 10 years. Commissioners requested additional information on alternative forms of recycling and suggested that those Towns interested in curbside recycling pursue that option on their own.
The recycling study is part of an ongoing series of reviews of solid waste management options and best practices that Engle is conducting. Had the recycling study been contracted to an outside consultant, cost would be estimated in the $15,000-$30,000 range.