County Comment: Recycling Christmas Trees and Mulch More

County Comment
Recycling Christmas Trees and Mulch More
by Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

Christmas time means a tree and all the trimmings, but what can you do with it after the holidays have run their course?
Harvey Hoch, Washington County Recycling Coordinator will; be glad to take it off your hand for free, at the 40-West Landfill, one mile west of Huyett's Crossroads on U.S. 40, or at any of the satellite landfill facilities. In fact, he'll take two trees per county household. What's the catch? None, other than the trees must be clean of ornaments, lights, tinsel and the like, and have no nails, staples or other metal fasteners attached.
No artificial trees will be accepted.
County residents recycle thousand of tons of materials such as cardboard, glass and plastic annually, and Hoch is also interested in moving recycled materials out of the landfill. Less material going into the ground means less cost for construction of new landfill cells.
"Changes have occurred in the way that we've handled waste over the years," Hoch says, "some we've had for a long time, such as handling scrap metal, but we also have a lot more responsibility for any appliance with freon, where we have to check them all, and make sure the freon has been removed to protect the environment. We have also added rechargeable batteries to the items that may be recycled, and we've also started dealing with propane tanks."
Hoch says that many of the older propane tanks, those without overflow protection valves cannot be refilled but are able to be recycled at the 40-West Landfill site.
"We do thousands of tons of mulch every year and now that residents have realized the value, that's being sold," Hoch said.
"In summary we're trying to get a lot more material to flow out of the gate of the landfill, and not to go in to be buried," he said. .
"We don't want to fill our landfill with things that could be recycled," Hoch said. "I'm very pleased to see that the City of Hagerstown will be adding some services to their recycling program in April, and we really need a lot of folks in our community to step forward on this issue."
A product currently being promoted by the Recycling Office this year is a soil amendment mix. "It's similar to what people might call compost, made from leaves and grass. It's great for new yards that need added organic material, or to till into gardens in the fall. We do not have a screening plant, so small bits of plastic will be found in the mixture," Hoch said.
"My suggestion is for folks to come out to the landfill office and inspect the soil amendment. It's an excellent product at an excellent price," he said.
The Solid Waste Department is also looking for commercial loggers that would bid on a large number of cleaned logs, resulting from clearing of land for new cell construction.
"We will be advertising the contract and people in the business that have boom trucks can put in bids for this timber and the high bidder would be awarded the contract for this particular job," Hoch said. Interested parties can contact the Solid Waste Department to view the logs in order to see what they are bidding on.
For more information on all recycling activities, Hoch invites citizens to call 240-313-2796, between the hours of 7:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on weekdays.