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Is Bigger Better?

Anne Arundel County hopes larger containers amount to a greater recycling haul

The bigger, the better. That seems to be the theory behind Anne Arundel County’s push to distribute 65-gallon recycling containers throughout the county.
    “Recycling is a budgetary priority of this administration,” says County Executive John R. Leopold. “I’m always looking for ways to enhance the convenience of our recycling plan.”
    Our recycling habits now fall 10 percent short of the county goal of 50 percent recycling.
    “We’ve done focus groups in the past, and the biggest thing [citizens] stated is that they would recycle more if it was easier,” says county recycling manager Richard Bowen.
    What could be easier than a giant bin?
    The new containers, distributed first in the Glen Burnie and Riviera Beach sections of the county, are sturdy wheeled containers with lids, easy to transport up and down the driveway and secure from winds and animals.
    So far, it seems to be working.
    “Back in the fall we distributed to the Marley and Glen Burnie area,” reports Bowen. Those communities “have increased their recycling 60 percent in a six-month period. Without doing anything other than giving them a different tool.”
    The recycling program is still collecting data on the Riveria Beach additions, but the news is encouraging.
    “Some residents who were using multiple containers are now using one,” says Bowen.
    Sixty-five gallons might seem like a heavy load, but the county asserts that it’s manageable with the new bins. Heavy loads can be wheeled to the road, where an automated lift will empty the containers and save the backs of the recycling collectors.
    Not every citizen agrees.
    “It’s so unwieldy and big,” complains Lois Burton of Riviera Beach, a committed recycler. “It’s too big to handle and too big to hide behind my lattice screen.”
    Burton would like her old carton recyclers back, but they’re being collected and redistributed — along with second-generation 35-gallon containers — to areas without the new 65-gallon receptacles.
    “We’re cleaning them up and putting them back on the street for reuse,” Bowen says. “Obviously we can’t afford to go county-wide all at one time, so we’re still going to be using our 35-gallon containers.”
    For now, the county is picking and choosing locations for the new bins.
    “The first was chosen because it was an area where the recycling hadn’t increased in over two years,” Bowen says. “Now we’re trying to get carts to different areas of the county to get feedback on how the residents like them”
    South County and Hillsmere are the next testing grounds.
    This month, 8,000 more of the new cans will be delivered to Deale, and along the Riva Road corridor down to the South River.
    Bigger containers won’t have to do the whole job of upping our county recycling by 10 percent. A second push is expected to come by year’s end from reducing trash pickup from twice to once weekly. The county plan is to drop collection on the current trash-only day. Trash, recycling and yard waste will all be gathered on a single disposal day.
    When your trashcan fills up, thinking goes, you’ll have that great big new 65-gallon recycling container hungry for more.
    Better keep current on all you can put in it: www.recyclemoreoften.com.