Trash options already available to residents

For the last several weeks, commissioners and other Frederick County officials have talked about options for solving the county’s waste disposal problems. Options batted around recently include an incinerator (or waste-to-energy facility) and a ‘‘zero waste park,” which includes expanded recycling options as well as commercial composting. In these discussions, several county officials have said the county already has top-notch recycling in place, with plans for expansion. But our question is, if a county has outstanding recycling programs, but few residents are aware of them, does it matter?

A healthy dose of skepticism and hope

We are skeptical that America can ever become a society that throws away nothing, or what some environmentalists would call a ‘‘zero-waste” community. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, or at least search for economical ways to throw away less. Officials from Carroll and Frederick counties have been invited to do just that by taking a trip out West. Caroline Eader — who holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology and works as a paralegal for a science-based, nonprofit environmental land trust — splits her time between Frederick County and Boulder, Colo. She has invited Carroll and Frederick leaders to visit Boulder to see how that city handles its trash, and they are responding favorably. They are working to organize a trip for mid-June. Boulder adopted a resolution in May 2006 to work toward becoming a zero-waste city. It uses Eco-Cycle, a nonprofit organization, to manage its recycling program to work toward that goal. Eco-Cycle provides recycling to about 800 businesses, and operates a community recycling center for items that are typically difficult to recycle, such as porcelain sinks, Styrofoam blocks and electronic equipment.

Waste not?

Frederick News Post
Mike Marschner, director of Frederick County's Utilities and Solid Waste Management Division, would like the Frederick County Commissioners to make some decisions. The decisions he's calling for will be some of the more momentous ones this board makes during its tenure, as they will affect how the county handles its massive volumes of solid waste well into the future. In a recent story in The Frederick News-Post, Marschner acknowledges that these decisions will be tough ones, but he also says they "need to happen in the next couple of months because we need to be given some direction." To help the commissioners in their decision-making process, Marschner is scheduled to give a lengthy and comprehensive presentation to the board on Oct. 22. That presentation will be his vision of how the county should proceed in addressing the solid waste it generates. According to the News-Post story, Marschner anticipates that his proposal will be a multifaceted one. Among the things he is expected to recommend are enhanced recycling efforts, waste-prevention programs, and the construction of a waste-to-energy (WTE) plant -- an incinerator that generates electricity from the trash it burns. Proposals for a local waste-to-energy plant have been met with a significant amount of resistance from some private citizens, as well as environmental groups. They have presented an array of arguments against such a plant, including its initial and operating costs, as well as its potential environmental impact.