Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Does Frederick County loose money on Recycling?

Frederick County Recycling changing gears... because of money?

I had to think about this article a long time because it might get someone fired.

I've got a readership, there are people reading that work in the City of Frederick, and other people that I can't say are reading this blog. In his book "The Powers that Be" David Halberstam wrote about Katherine Graham exercising political power by what she kept out of the Washington Post.

Last month I had a "run in" with the guy that picks up our recycle bin. What is being practiced in my neighborhood and what is on the county website isn't the same. Our regular driver doesn't want to pick up anything that isn't in the 18 gallon blue bin.

Here's is what is on the official Frederick County Recycling Office website:

Excess recyclables may be placed in paper bags or cardboard boxes no larger than the recycling container. Do not place excess recycling in trash bags
Items that must be tied in bundles, placed in paper bags or similar sized container no
larger then 18 gallons:

  • Newspapers
  • Phone Books
  • Mixed paper (junk mail, writing paper, envelopes, catalogs, glossy inserts, paperback books,magazines, small catalogs and boxboard)
  • Corrugated cardboard-must be flattened and no larger then 2.5' square (no wax coated boxes)

After making phone calls and Googling Frederick County Recycling

You get taken to this:
2. Creates Jobs
Recycling in the U.S. is a $236 billion a year industry. More than 56,000 recycling and reuse enterprises employ 1.1 million workers nationwide.

And this:
6. Preserves Landfill Space
No one wants to live next door to a landfill. Recycling preserves existing landfill space.

And I found this link marked "Citizen Concerns"
Where I found this copy:
" you must provide contact information such as a phone number or e-mail address so that we can reach you when we have follow-up information regarding your request."

I reported a complaint in detail quoting what steps I'd taken to resolve the problem and never heard back from them. Christmas came and NONE of the excess cardboard from Christmas went into the recycle truck... all of it went to the County Landfill, because it all got picked up by the regular trash guys.

I also run "Dumpster Diving for Instant Cash" blog and reported there that the prices paid for aluminum is down about 50%, recylcling centers are buying scrap but there is no current demand for it at all, they reported this:
"We're buying aluminum right now and just letting it pile up. That's why we're not paying as much for aluminum as we were 2 months ago. Right now demand for aluminum just dropped to zero. We're hoping to sell our stock pile next year, but we're not even sure we're gonna be able to sell it next year"

Now I thought the county had just brushed me off... so I did some more investigating:

At the Counties website it seems that if you blinked you'd miss this:
at the upper right hand side of the page is this tiny box:
Login to check on
existing requests

and You've got to look closely to hunt this down:
Logged in as XXX@somedomain.com
View Existing Requests
Account Settings

Frederick County is moving away from weekly recycling pick up to twice a month and switching from the current 18 gallon little blue bins to two larger sizes: 32 gallons and 65 gallons (roughly the size of the City of Frederick's trash cans).

I'm wondering if the price of something easily turned into cash like Aluminum is down to about half what it was, what's that done to the price of cardboard?

I'll bet my bottom dollar the county loses money on cardboard when times are good, what ever they're doing now has got to save money because instead of paying for 50 pick ups a year, they'r now having to pay for 26.

Fair enough, the county has got to save money... but is our cardboard going to get picked up?

Do they no longer want to pick up cardboard?

I logged back in and sent a second request for follow up... almost no one is going to go to this much trouble to get their cardboard out of the landfill and into recycling. How many other areas is cardboard going into the trash?

From where I sat, the county did not email me back(inspite of the copy on the official Frederick County website aluding to "leave us your email so we can get back to you" )... it looked to me as if my request was ingored... I'm a reporter for Frederick.com, so I made a Youtube vid of the driver leaving the cardboard (a cover my butt so it doesn't look like I'm crying wolf move on my part)

in the video I'm holding my granddaughter and you can hear me talking to her.
view it here:

Does it look to you like the cardboard was cut to 2 1/2 feet?

Now a month later the Frederick County Government Recycling website I see this line:
You may also exchange your container for a larger size (up to a 95-gallon cart) or purchase additional 18-gallon blue bins. For further assistance, please call the Office of Recycling at 301-600-2960.
I honestly do not remember if that line about exchanging our little blue bins was there a month ago... I DO remember seeing the line where I can BUY an extra bin

I'm wondering if cardboard has lost some of it's importance because it's not a cash crop like aluminum is/was... right now neither of them are bringing in the money they used to.
If cardboard brought in a tiny fraction of aluminum before I'm thinking they're losing money on picking it up now.

Hopefully the cost cutting measure (if cost cutting is why they're changing the system) will make it so we can get our cardboard to NOT go into the landfill.

With the exception of summertime bees being attracted to the soda cans sitting in our back yards for two weeks rather than a few days, it is a Green Thing To Do to come around 26 times a year instead of 50, lessens the recycling processes carbon foot print.

Footnotes to follow up on the counties change from weekly to every two weeks and links to the costs associated with recycling in nearby Montgomery County and Carroll County below:

Feb 17 2008 Taxes Keep Incinerator afloat source Carroll County Times

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Life in Frederick Maryland

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