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Recycling expands in city

April 22, 2006|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

A new era of trash collection is about to start in Hagerstown.

The city has been preparing for months to expand its recycling program, which will remain voluntary.

As part of the changes, which take effect Sunday, the schedule for setting out and picking up trash has been reconfigured.

With 13,700 customers to alert, the city has been trying to get the word out as many different ways as possible, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said.

The significant changes are what to put out at the curb and when to put it there.

The city already collects mixed paper for recycling. Starting Sunday, residents also may put plastic, aluminum and glass products out at the curb.

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In the North End, people accustomed to setting general trash out on Thursday nights will have to switch to Wednesday nights.

For the South End, the time to set out general trash will switch from Friday nights to Thursday nights.

The city will be broken into five zones for collecting recyclable items.

The Hagerstown City Council voted 3-1 in November 2005 to approve a three-year contract with Allied Waste Services to collect general trash, at a cost of $989,577.

By another 3-1 vote, the council agreed to spend $115,409 on a contract with Allied Waste Services that would expand recycling.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh voted no to both contracts. She previously expressed skepticism about whether the city's high percentage of renters would follow a new collection schedule.

In December, because of rising costs and expanded recycling, the city council raised the quarterly trash rate per residential unit from $27 to $35.75.

Tissue said the city last changed its trash-collection schedule 10 years ago, so it might take a few weeks for residents to catch on.

Asked what the city would consider a good participation rate for voluntary recycling, Tissue said 20 percent.

If that goes well, "the next step would be mandatory recycling," he said.

The city is distributing blue bins for residents to use when setting out aluminum, glass and plastic recyclables.

Out of 2,000 bins, "we've given out 1,000 (and) orders are pouring in," Tissue said.

To alert residents about the changes, the city has put notices on its public access channel, its Web site and The Weather Channel.

It has printed color brochures. It has contacted landlords.

Residents have been told through radio shows, newspaper ads and inserts in their utility bills.

Most of the city's Neighborhoods 1st groups have gone door to door with fliers for the past few weeks, said Shelli Dronsfield, the city's community development coordinator.

She expects volunteers to reach about 1,700 households.

"We've done everything we can do to tell people about this program," Tissue said.

He said the easiest reminder people can have is a trash-collection schedule to post on their refrigerators.

Another education campaign scheduled for today was canceled because of the threat of rain and a thunderstorm.

About 75 Washington County high school students were supposed to go to downtown-area residences with materials explaining the trash and recycling program, according to Jenny Fleming, the community building and marketing director for the United Way of Washington County.

The effort was to have been part of National & Global Youth Service Day.

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