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Curbside recycling could cost $300,000 to $3 million a year

October 06, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- A curbside recycling program could cost anywhere from $300,000 to $3 million per year depending on where the county implements it, Washington County Deputy Director of Environmental Management Clifford J. Engle told the Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday.

If the county implemented a curbside recycling program only in the county's incorporated towns, it would cost between $302,203 and $345,145 per year for collection and other operating costs, Engle said. To include the entire county, except for the City of Hagerstown, would cost between $1.7 million and $2 million per year, and for the entire county, including Hagerstown, would cost between $2.6 million and $3 million, Engle said.

That's in addition to the purchase of household recycling bins at about $44 each, he said.

Engle said he recommended using single-stream recycling, in which all recyclable materials are collected in one container, and charging households about $60 a year for collection.

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Currently, with curbside recycling only in Hagerstown and Williamsport, and recycling drop boxes serving the rest of the county, about 8 percent of the residential waste in the county is recycled, Engle said.

Based on participation rates in other counties, Engle estimated that a single-stream curbside recycling program could increase that rate to 14 percent, or, if the county is aggressive, 20 percent.

That level of recycling would mean a savings of $10 million to $12 million in landfill costs over a period of 55 years, County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval said he was surprised by the extent of the gap between the cost of a recycling program and the savings it would provide. He suggested the county look into whether money would be better spent on an educational campaign to encourage use of the county's recycling drop boxes.

Engle said he would research the effectiveness of drop box educational campaigns in other counties and report back to the commissioners at a future meeting.

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