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Martinsburg raising awareness of recycling

July 17, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - When you finish reading this newspaper, where will it go?

If you live in the city of Martinsburg and the answer is the garbage can you are, technically, breaking the law.

Although the city does not intend to start vigorously enforcing a state law that requires people to recycle, it has launched a public awareness campaign to try to prompt more people to begin recycling glass bottles, tin and aluminum cans, and newspapers.

Fliers are being distributed and the city is paying for newspaper advertisements, asking that people recycle.

"If you are participating, great. If you're not, you should be," City Manager Mark Baldwin said.

Because it has a population of more than 10,000, Martinsburg was required by state law to start a recycling program in 1993.

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"I would venture to say that as time goes by ... people may get lax and they're throwing their papers or their pop cans in their normal trash," Baldwin said.

Mayor George Karos said he hopes an increase in recycling will help alleviate the burden on the county's landfill. The landfill has had to close several times because it reached its monthly limit of 9,999 tons.

"Maybe this would help solve the monthly landfill issues," Karos said.

Councilman Donald Anderson agreed, saying the trash problem only is going to worsen as the summer goes on and as more development occurs on the west side of Interstate 81 in Martinsburg.

The city now collects recyclables on Wednesdays. For residents whose trash is picked up on Mondays and Thursdays, recyclables are picked up on the first and third Wednesday of each month. For residents whose trash is picked up on Tuesdays and Fridays, recyclables are picked up on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.

Residents are not charged any additional fee for the city to pick up recyclables. Customers must provide their own bins.

After city workers separate and drop off the recyclables at a recycling center on Stephen Street, private companies charge the city to pick them up. The city makes little, if any, profit, Baldwin said.

"It's not a moneymaking source for us," he said.

Plastics are not required to be picked up by law, and several years ago, the city stopped collecting plastic containers, which it had been doing as a courtesy. No market exists locally to collect the plastics, Baldwin said.

Along with plastic items, the city does not collect aerosol cans, aluminum pots and pans, drinking glasses, window glass, light bulbs, china, porcelain, crystal, pottery or lawn chairs.

In 2004, the city collected 77.6 tons of glass, 54.74 tons of newspapers and 16.5 tons of aluminum and steel/tin cans.

During an annual spring cleanup event, when residents can place larger items on curbs to be picked up, the city collected 900 tires and 25.52 tons of major appliances and metal.

Along with the state law, a city ordinance also in effect makes recycling mandatory.

"But how do you monitor that?" Baldwin said. "We're not trying to enforce (the law) by penalizing those who aren't recycling. We're not going to go through people's trash to see if recyclables are in there."

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