Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Those Apartment Recycling Blues

A commenter identified as “SH” on a recent post raised a question about why Howard County had stopped free recycling to the county apartment complexes. SH went on to ask the following four questions:

“How does it work for folks in single-family homes or townhouses? Do you pay extra for recycling? Is it funded through property taxes? Am I wrong to be annoyed?”

Well SH, I contacted Josh Feldmark, the county environmental czar, and got some answers for you. As it turns out, owners of townhomes and single family homes in the county pay an annual recycling fee of $39.00. For “several years” this service was provided to county apartment dwellers at no charge “but that program fell victim to budget cuts.”

“With the cancellation of the program, if the complex wants to continue recycling, they can do one of three things. We will continue having our contractors pick up the recycling for a fee that we pass on to the residents. They can sign up for the Chamber of Commerce's new recycling co-op or they can arrange a private contract the same way they do for trash.”

I asked Josh to identify some of the apartment complexes that have taken some of these steps. He cited Bowling Book, Columbia Town Center, Autumn Crest, Elkridge Town Center and Orchard Park apartment complexes as participating in the Chamber co-op program and he further informed me that Poplar Glen, Village Towns and Gatherings at Lynwood have arrangements with private contractors.

And as to the final question as to whether it is wrong to be annoyed, I'd have to say no. The only question is who to be annoyed with. If it were me and my apartment complex did not have a recycling program I’d be annoyed with the management.


Anonymous said...

As a homeowner, can I opt out of the recycling program and get my $39 back?

Bob O said...

Let's just hope that "Healthy Howard" becomes a budget cut, too.

I mean, if we can deprive people of free recycling, can't we disallow them from badly planned healthcare, too?

It just makes sense.

Also, I'd like my $39 back, too. I go to the dump every weekend.

Anonymous said...

Come on WB!! Aren't you going to post anything about Mugane's debut on WMAR?

Please readers, email the news editor and let her know that HCCA does not represent the views of Howard residents:


It's a sad freakin day when the state of Maryland is exposed to one of our worst appendages.

Story: This group doesn’t represent us

Anonymous said...

"Also, I'd like my $39 back, too. I go to the dump every weekend."

How much do you pay at the dump for that Bob O?

macsmom said...

I am thrilled to have recycling in Howard County. When I lived in the Rodgers Forge Apts., I took my recycling to the center at TSU. But when Baltimore County started county-wide recycling, they closed the center but didn't provide recycling to apartments. This is just crazy!

Bob O said...

I believe the $39 fee is paid to have your recycling picked up at curbside. Since I'm driving it to the recycling center, i.e., "the dump," myself, I don't really need to pay that fee.

I try to recycle everything I possibly can, and dispose of potentially hazardous substances, such as paint, oil, batteries, and so on, in as concientious a manner as possible. The Alpha Ridge landfill, which has its own history of problems, is now one of the better-run HoCo operations in it's role as a recycling center. One of the reasons this is true is because it's being run as a for-profit operation. The contracter who actually does the recycling is trying to make a profit from this activity.

Last I heard, a few weeks back, the county was still breaking even on its recycling program, according to the county executive, even during the current economic difficulties.

Which is why I pay nothing when I go to the dump--I'm actually providing the raw material for someone else's business operation.

Anonymous said...

Oh Bob,

For the gas alone, if your round trip to that facility is 20 miles and your mileage is 20 mpg, that's about $2.35 each time or $122 for a year's weekly trips. Add in the value of your time and that probably brings the annual cost up to at least $130. ;)

Add to that vehicle depreciation and value of the risk of 52 additional trips and the annual fee to drop off items at that facility.

Makes the $39/year/home for convenient curbside pickup seem a quite a bargain and time saver by comparison.

Personally, I'd like the County to go to "pay as you throw" for trash collection, charging by the pound. That would probably reduce trash creation/output, increase recycling participation, and relieve many of us from subsidizing others' trashier lifestyles (at least as far as trash goes).

The savings realized by the County could go to expanding Healthy Howard even more.

SH said...

Thanks so much for the update!

I'll bring this information to the attention of the apartment management. I also contacted the recycling folks and they were kind enough to inform me when I could make a comment on next year's budget.