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Thurmont working out recycling plan

Ingrid Mezo

Thurmont town officials are still hashing out details of the town's recycling policy, which they originally hoped to make effective by Sept. 1.

The town is trying to reduce its trash removal fees by encouraging residents to recycle more.

But, before the town can adopt an official policy making recycling of some items mandatory, town officials would like to see Frederick County implement curbside pickup for all Thurmont residents.

"It's no good to have an ordinance you can't enforce," Commissioner Glenn Muth said.

Pleasant Acres, Jer-Mae Estates and Bennet Estates do not yet have curbside recycling pickup, according to Mayor Martin Burns.

The county originally planned to have curbside pickup available for all residents by Aug. 1, but that may not happen, Thurmont Commissioner Ron Terpko said.

Delays in getting curbside pickup for all Thurmont residents may explain why the town's recycling commission has not yet changed the wording in the town's trash ordinance or sent out a letter to residents informing them of the town's intended recycling policy. The committee is working on doing both now, Terpko said.

The new ordinance will outline exactly what types of refuse will be accepted as trash, and which items fall under recycling.

"In the Town of Thurmont we've had a very generous trash policy," Commissioner Terpko said at a recent town meeting. "You put it out there, we're going to take it, pretty much."

That policy is changing, however, mostly due to stricter regulations at the Frederick County landfill and increased "tipping fee" costs that municipalities throughout the county are being charged to dump trash.

Frederick County recently increased fees that municipalities pay to dump regular trash at the landfill to $59 per ton. That is $17 more per ton than what was paid in previous years.

Each municipality's trash contract with county expired in June. The increased fees are a result of rising costs at the landfill.

"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."

Terpko further outlined the problem by using a recent example of problematic trash. One resident placed a car hood on the curb for trash pickup, which cost the town extra money, since towns are charged by the weight of trash picked up, Terpko said. A car hood is a good example of the type of material that takes up a relatively large amount of landfill space, and could easily be recycled, he said.

The town is considering making the recycling of cardboard and paper mandatory, said recycling committee member Ted DePaolis in a phone interview last month.

"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."

The letter the town plans to send out to residents will explain the program, and state exactly what types of materials are now being accepted for recycling at the county landfill.

Aluminum and steel cans, foil and pie plates, clear and colored plastic bottles, other than automotive oil or antifreeze, and paper, other than wax-coated boxes, can be placed in county-issued bins for curbside pickup.

The county will also issue extra bins, lids or carts for a fee for residents who request them.

Thurmont residents can recycle motor oil and antifreeze at the Municipal Building on Frederick Road.

The Reichs Ford Drop-off Center in Frederick accepts items such as motor oil, antifreeze, car batteries, scrap metal, textiles, yard trimmings, flexible foam and tires for recycling.

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