Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Sykesville explores recycling and trash options

Town considering ways to save money, protect environment

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Sykesville officials are exploring how the town can improve recycling and save money on disposing trash.

‘‘If we start out small and make it easy, we can do it,” said Mayor Jonathan Herman at Monday night’s mayor and Town Council meeting.

Town Manager Matt Candland said he and Public Works Director Ron Esworthy would research ideas and present possible solutions to the Town Council at its annual mayor and Town Council retreat.

The retreat is slated for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 8 in the meeting room at the Old Main Line Visitors’ Center, 731 Oklahoma Ave., Sykesville.

The Town of Sykesville’s Public Works Department collects trash and recyclables, and has budgeted $100,000 this fiscal year to dispose of trash.

Sykesville recycled on average 23 tons of paper per month in fiscal 2006, which are the latest numbers available. Residents recycled about 7 tons of plastics, cans and glass per month in the same year, according to the town’s Public Works Web site.

During Monday’s meeting, Sher Horosko, member of the county’s Environmental Advisory Council, presented the Town Council with ideas of how it could improve recycling in the town.

The Environmental Advisory Council is a nine-member board appointed by the Board of County Commissioners to examine environmental affects of county projects.

‘‘You have the best opportunity in Sykesville out of any municipality in Carroll to actually chart your own future because you run your own [Public Works] Department,” she said.

Horosko said the Environmental Advisory Council looked at incentive-driven programs, education, and banning products (like plastic bags) from the waste stream.

One of the easiest ways to increase recycling, Horosko said, is to implement a pay-as-you-throw, or recycle-and-save program.

Residents would be charged based on how much trash they throw away instead of a flat fee, she said.

‘‘If you have an opportunity to actually pay less, you may actually generate less trash,” she said. ‘‘...Right now we have no incentives to do that.”

Horosko showed that Bath, Maine, was able to reduce trash by 58 percent in a two-month time when it implemented pay-as-you-throw compared to before the program began.

Using that example, Horosko said Sykesville could save $58,000 if trash was reduced by 58 percent.

Herman said awareness should be raised gradually as well as introducing ways to recycle that are easy and acceptable to town residents. ‘‘We can simply do recycling and save money for our budget,” he said.

Herman, who recycles and composts, said he has to ask himself sometimes which is better when he throws something away.

‘‘This is a piece of paper,” he said. ‘‘Why am I throwing this into the trash?”

The town made recycling easier in July 2007 when it allowed residents to mix recyclables instead of requiring them to be sorted.

Sykesville’s quest for trash solutions is a small part of the county’s search to reduce trash.

Sykesville’s trash is shipped to Northern Landfill in Westminster, where some of the trash is then transported to Virginia.

The county sent 104,300 tons of trash to Virginia in 2006 at a cost of $51 per ton, according to the county’s Department of Public Works. The cost will rise as tipping fees are now $61 per ton.

If the county would stop hauling trash to Virginia, the landfill would be out of space by 2018, according to the county’s Department of Public Works.

Horosko suggested the town could ban paper from being thrown away where the town would take paper and sell it to be recycled as a commodity.

‘‘Paper on the commodities market is in really high demand,” she said.

Yard waste is the only item banned from county’s waste stream. The county banned it in 1994.

Esworthy said the town is looking into a possible contract to sell paper and cardboard.

Electronics should be easier to recycle, too, Horosko said. In Carroll County, residents have to go to the landfill and dump their televisions or computers into a recycling bin.

She pointed to Aberdeen as a leading example in Maryland. Aberdeen charges residents 40 cents for each electronic item, which are placed on the curb, she said.