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Town studying recycling program

Ingrid Mezo
The Gazette

(6/2) The Thurmont Town Recycling Committee, headed by town Commissioner Ron Terpko, is planning to make recycling mandatory in Thurmont, rather than the voluntary program that it is right now.

Terpko said he hopes to have everything in place for a new recycling regulation by Sept. 1.

"Basically, what we would like to do is to implement the curbside recycling program that the county intended," Terpko said. "In the town of Thurmont, we've had a very generous trash policy. You put it out there we're going to take it, pretty much."

But with the tipping fees -- the amount haulers pay per ton to dump trash at the county-run landfill on Reichs Ford Road -- going up to $59 a ton, Thurmont can no longer continue to run its trash service the way it has without passing along the increased cost to town residents.

"That's $17 a ton more than what we're paying now," Terpko said. "In order to offset that cost, we need to implement a recycling program and update our trash ordinance."

The trash ordinance does not specify what types of trash are accepted, so people can pretty much put anything on the curb and have it picked up by B.F.I., the trash collection company Thurmont uses. Terpko and the recycling committee plan to outline exactly what types of refuse will be accepted as trash, and what items fall under recycling.

"There would be no way to enforce recycling without the new ordinance stating what can and can't be put in the trash," Terpko said.

The new trash ordinance will not be in place by July 1, in time for the first quarter of fiscal 2006. The recycling committee, just in the ground stages itself after having been restarted two months ago, is working on a newsletter to send to Thurmont residents that explains why recycling is in the town's best interest.

"In the town of Thurmont, we are more than capable to implement a recycling program 100 percent," Terpko said. "If everyone recycled their newspapers every week, that's 15 pounds of paper. We could save $20,000 a year just by recycling newspapers."

Beside the money, recycling also benefits the environment.

"It's not only a good thing for us right now, but it will also be good for our children and grandchildren in the future," said Ted DePaolis, a member of the recycling committee.

DePaolis added that although he and some of the other committee members were hoping to implement a full-scale mandatory recycling program for all recyclable materials, for right now he thought the Town Commission was only going to make the recycling of cardboard and paper mandatory.

"Paper is the largest tonnage amount that goes into the landfill," DePaolis said. "It comprises something like 40 percent of what goes into the landfill, so that's a step in the right direction. Most people are pretty good about doing the recycling now anyway with the plastic and aluminum cans."

Terpko said he felt that although Thurmont is a community that "rises above and beyond," there may be some initial confusion with what types of materials are recyclable.

"What's going to happen is people are not going to realize everything that falls under recyclable materials," Terpko said. "... People are so used to throwing out recyclable materials. We need to meet with our trash people as well."

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