County Recycling Rate Dips

SNOW HILL – The county recycling rate for 2009 has gone down slightly compared to 2008, but it is still twice the legally required rate.

The recycling rate in Worcester County went down 2 percent last year, with the 2008 recycling rate of 32.38 percent rate becoming 30.14 percent in 2009.

“This is still a good rate,” Worcester Public Works Director John Tustin said.

By law, Worcester County must recycle 15 percent of its waste. That could be changed to 20 percent in the near future.

This rate does not include Ocean City’s recent decision to discontinue recycling pick-up in the resort since that just went into effect last month.

With Ocean City eliminating its recycling program, the county should see a 4-percent drop in the county recycling rate next year, according to Tustin.

“We’ve had a lot of calls from Ocean City residents about what to do with their recycling,” Tustin said.

Staff members have been directing callers to recycling centers in Bishopville and at the Wal-Mart on Route 50.

County Commission President Bud Church suggested adding a new recycling center in the county closer to Ocean City, perhaps at the Ocean City Park-n-Ride.

“I think Ocean City would be very receptive,” Church said.

The county’s other efforts to keep waste, in this case yard waste, out of the landfill are going strong.

Yard waste may still be dropped of at the Berlin rubblefill and in Pocomoke City, despite staff suggestions to centralize collection of yard waste to save funds.

The Worcester County Commissioners voted this week to keep yard waste, which is turned into mulch and sold by the landfill, at the Berlin and Pocomoke sites, saying it is more convenient.

Staff suggested centralizing that operation to reduce costs, and because the Berlin rubblefill will be capped in the near future and yard waste operations will then be moved to the landfill anyway.

“It’s a 20-mile haul from Pocomoke to Newark,” Commissioner Bobby Cowger said when the proposal was made at Tuesday’s County Commissioners meeting.

Not only is the drive inconvenient, the yard waste being delivered will blow out of the truck along the way, Cowger said.

“It’s going to be a nightmare,” said Cowger.

“It’s a long way from Ocean City,” said Church. “I’m not in favor of it.”

“I think it’s a good idea. I think we ought to do it,” said Commissioner Judy Boggs.

There have been issues at the Berlin and Pocomoke facilities with commercial landscapers dropping off several loads of yard waste a day, using a homeowner’s sticker, county staff said, leading to disputes with drop-off site attendants. Some day individuals could get hurt, staff felt.

Commissioner Linda Busick suggested restricting the number of times per day someone can drop off yard waste.

A citizen clearing a downed tree off their property might need to come in several times in a day, staff said in response.

Accepting yard waste at the outlying facilities has caused problems, and the Berlin facility will be unavailable eventually, Tustin pointed out.

Cowger suggested passing along the names of the over-users higher up the county staff chain, so Tustin or someone in authority could inform anyone abusing their permit to stop.

The commissioners voted 6-1, Boggs voting against, to retain the Berlin and Pocomoke yard waste drop offs.