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Bin there, done that

January 31, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

After 13 years of making multiple trips each week to drop off recyclable material, John Shoemaker's life was simplified Monday when he received a free recycling bin from the city of Hagerstown.

For 10 years in Sharpsburg and three years in Hagerstown, Shoemaker said, he made three trips a week to various sites in the county to leave recycled mixed paper, cans, bottles and plastic.

Now Shoemaker, 80, will have to make only one trip a week since he can put mixed paper in the 18-gallon recycling bin, he said.

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Mixed paper is defined by the city as office paper, computer paper, colored paper, newspaper, cardboard, mail, magazines, catalogs, telephone books, adhesive notes and folders.

Shoemaker praised the city for using a small surplus in the refuse collection budget to pay $4,500 to buy 1,000 recycling bins and give them away for free. The bins' contents will be picked up each Thursday by the trash hauler.

Shoemaker and others who requested and received the bins said Monday they were happy to get the bins and expressed hope the city would expand the program to also include the recycling of bottles and plastic.

"That is not outside the realm of possibilities but there is significantly more cost," Hagerstown City Engineer Rodney Tissue said.

To pay for that additional recycling the city would need to increase fees to all trash customers by about $24 a year, Tissue said.

Tissue said Monday he was pleased and excited that about 500 people requested the free bins in less than two weeks time.

Some residents previously put out mixed paper for pick-up but not in bins and in a smaller quantity, Tissue said.

If the demand for recycling bins remains strong, the city might buy and give away more of them, he said.

"The city has lots of people saying, 'I have not recycled before and I will now,'" Tissue said.

Judith McLean said she hopes the city will also offer trash customers recycling pick-ups for glass and other recyclables, as Columbia, Md., and some other cities do.

McLean, who is part of a Neighborhoods First group, encouraged other area residents to join her in getting bins and recycling.

Tissue said he hopes that as residents see other people with bins they, too, will want to start recycling.

"It is a positive peer pressure," he said.

Several people contacted Monday described situations similar to Shoemaker's: In order to recycle they have had to drop off some items at bins around the county.

Jane English was the first person to order and receive a bin.

"I think it's a wonderful program. It's a time-saver for me. I hope lots and lots of people get them," she said.

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