County administrator says decision to use a system of opting out of recycling was a hope that residents would opt in

May 17, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • Washington County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said county officials believed an opt-out system would promote recycling in the area.
File photo

Washington County’s support for Allied Waste’s opt-out recycling program was “to encourage recycling as opposed to mandating it,” according to County Administrator Gregory B. Murray.

“Just as people complain because they need to make a call to opt out, likewise many would not make the effort to call to opt in,” Murray wrote in an email on Wednesday.

“The County wanted to provide the option hoping that many would choose to recycle whether they use Allied or another company,” he wrote.

At the request of county spokeswoman Sarah Lankford Sprecher, The Herald-Mail sent questions to Murray by email on Wednesday afternoon for a story. Murray responded shortly after, but his email did not reach The Herald-Mail on Wednesday, so his comments were not included in Thursday’s front-page recycling story.

Murray was asked for his reaction to hundreds of county residents calling Allied Waste to ask to be removed from a new recycling program. People who didn’t opt out were automatically included, at a cost of $5 a month.

Out of 7,800 households in Allied’s pilot territory, 1,200 opted out before the blue 95-gallon bins were delivered. As of Thursday, another 1,600 households had opted out since the bin delivery began, according to Don Groseclose, Allied Waste’s Chesapeake area municipal manager.

He said 1,700 bins were delivered on Thursday, which could mean more opt-out calls from people who initially didn’t know about the service.

“We’ve been averaging about 200 a day,” he said.

Recycling collection is scheduled to start next month.

Asked if the county was concerned about residents being automatically billed for service if they didn’t respond, Murray wrote: “The initial post card was sent, if a property owner missed that a big blue advertisement is now in their driveway giving them the opportunity to opt out and have the bin removed, and if that doesn’t do it and they are billed without payment then they will STILL be taken out of the program. Individuals have a responsibility to exercise the option given them, knowing it has not been a mandate.”

Preston Fouke, who lives north of Hagerstown, said Wednesday that some bins were delivered to houses where no one lives. One house, on Essex Drive, has notices on the front door and garage indicating the house is “vacant and abandoned.”

Groseclose said Allied is picking up bins when they know no one at the address will participate in the program.

Murray also commented on a misleading letter Allied left with the bins, which started: “This letter is a follow up to the post card you received from Washington County regarding Allied Waste’s take over of your curbside recycling service.”

“It is incorrect that the County sent anything out and Allied is to resend a letter correctly stating such,” Murray wrote. “This is 100% Allied’s program. The County provided an opt out option and has no other involvement in making anyone participate.”

The Herald-Mail Articles