Frederick County recycling program Q&A

May 19, 2012

Advocates of a county-backed curbside recycling program often cite Frederick County’s program as a model. Annmarie Creamer, recycling outreach program coordinator for Frederick County, provided the following answers to questions about Frederick County’s program.

Q. When did Frederick County institute a curbside recycling program?
A. Frederick County’s curbside recycling service began as a pilot program for 4,000 homes in 1991. It has since grown to include all single-family homes, making over 74,500 households eligible to participate.

Q. Is the program countywide and single-stream?
A. Yes.

Q. How much does the program cost the county per year?
A. The curbside collection costs in calendar year 2011 were over $3.2 million. This does not include costs for carts (which are county owned), the cost of materials processing or other programmatic costs such as support staffing or outreach.

Q. How is it funded?
A. The landfill and related solid waste management and recycling programs are funded through a combination of user fees, some of which are levied at the solid waste facility in the form of tipping fees and some on the property tax bills, the latter referred to as a System Benefit Charge (SBC).

Q. How did you see your residential recycling rates change when you instituted curbside recycling?
A. When curbside was implemented in 1991, it had a significant impact on the amount of overall recycling in the county because the total amount of recyclable tons was so low. Now since the aggregate tons of recyclables has grown so large, changes in the curbside program have much smaller impacts on the overall amount of recyclables recovered. However, either way, the curbside program is a major contributor to the residential recycling effort in the county.

Q. What effect has it had on landfill life or costs?
A. Most of Frederick County’s trash is trucked out-of-state to other landfills, therefore it has mainly served to reduce the amount of municipal solid waste sent to other landfills.  For comparison purposes, the economic recession has decreased the county’s disposable waste more within the last three years than the decrease caused by increases in the curbside recycling program.

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