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Town launches recycling program

Bin at Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. accepts paper, cans and plastics

Bin at Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. accepts paper, cans and plastics

July 12, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

SMITHSBURG - Residents of Smithsburg now have to do less traveling to properly dispose of their recyclables, and Councilman Jerome Martin couldn't be more pleased.

A large, green recycling bin has been placed to the rear of the Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. station at 22 N. Main St.

Residents can pull into the fire company parking lot in one direction, unload and dispose of their recyclables, then leave out the other side of the lot.

"There was nothing in the town before now," Martin said. Previously, the only recycling bin in the area was on Greensburg Road.

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Harvey Hoch, recycling coordinator for Washington County, said the new bin will accept mixed paper, bimetal or aluminum cans, and No. 1 and No. 2 plastics including milk containers, soda bottles, and most detergent and shampoo bottles.

"All three kinds of glass - clear, brown and green - are accepted commingled as well as cardboard, as long as it is flat and no larger than 18 inches square," Hoch said.

Junk mail and magazines also are accepted.

Martin said word slowly is getting out that the bin is available.

"The first month it was slow, but it's picking up now," Martin said. "There have been two pickups so far."

The idea came from Martin, who has been on the Smithsburg Town Council for six years, and has been a recycling proponent.

Martin said he drives by every day or so and checks the bin. So far, there haven't been any problems.

"If people took just an extra five minutes, they could recycle a lot that they aren't recycling now," Martin said. He said his own household only puts out garbage once every two weeks because of recycling.

"It takes about two hours of my time to recycle the rest," Martin said, noting that at some point, the garbage problem is going to hit everyone in the pocketbook.

Hoch said the problem is that too much is going into landfills - items that could be recycled.

"It's always been an important issue, but now even more so," he said.

Currently, Smithsburg residents receive trash pickup twice a week. The cost to provide that service has increased from $40,000 to $190,000 in just three years, Martin said.

Residents now pay $13 per quarter to have their garbage taken away.

"My goal is to reduce the amount of garbage, and have one-day garbage pickup a week and one-day recycling," Martin said.

Hoch said most of the paper goes to the Maryland Paper Company, then to Pennsylvania.

Other recyclables are trucked to Virginia and elsewhere.

"We bid the contracts, and the biggest problem is always trucking," Hoch said.

A lot of plastic recyclables are being used to make composite decking, Martin said.

"It used to be 2 to 3 percent of plastics were being used," Martin said. "Now, it is up to 70 percent."

Now that it is more mainstream, Martin is using it in his business, Mar-Cal Construction. He said it is lighter in weight, has a wood appearance, doesn't warp and is impervious to rotting.

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