Recycling proponents try new way to reduce waste

November 14, 1998|By BRYN MICKLE

The recycling effort in Maryland is targeting a new way to reduce waste.

The wallet.

After years of encouraging people to recycle everything from glass bottles to cardboard boxes, the state is asking consumers and businesses to start buying the items produced by the recycling process.

But while lumber made from plastic milk jugs and soda bottles turned into T-shirts may be interesting, they don't exactly rally the public to action.

"It's tough to get people excited about garbage," said Harvey Hoch, the recycling coordinator for Washington County.

Not that the state isn't trying.

Invoking the mantra "If you're not buying recycled, you're not really recycling," Maryland is the using Sunday's second-annual "America Recycles Day" to encourage people to take matters a step further.


Among those steps:

* A commitment to buy recycled products such as toilet paper and paper towels for the home, while trying to get offices to show a similar effort with items such as recycled writing paper.

* Asking local retailers to stock more products made from recycled materials.

* Looking for materials that have recycled content such as steel, aluminum, glass and molded paper pulp containers.

Hoch said Washington County produces more than 200,000 tons of waste each year, but recycling efforts help cut down on the amount of garbage that ends up in the county's landfills.

The Maryland Paper Co. in Williamsport turns 120,000 tons of mixed paper into 100,000 tons of roofing paper each year, while Conservit in Hagerstown shreds the remains of scrapped cars so that the metal may be reused for items such as steel support beams.

While fears of overflowing landfills and images of barges filled with trash floating down rivers have been used to motivate people to recycle in the past, Hoch is concerned people might recycle for the wrong reasons.

Hoch said Washington County will likely not run out of land fill space for 80 years, but said the day will come when the county needs to find alternatives.

"There is no crisis right now," he said. "But there is no reason we shouldn't do what we can before it becomes a problem."

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