Upper Marlboro considers options to boost recycling

Upper Marlboro officials are weighing potential changes to trash pickup services to encourage more recycling — and potentially qualify the town for additional grant funding.

Steve Sonnett, chairman of the town’s board of commissioners, said he thinks not many residents recycle, particularly those living in townhouses, because it may be difficult to store and bring recycling bins to the curb, as many bins are kept behind the house.

The town has roughly 300 residential homes, of which 132 are townhouses.

“It’s a good thing to do, to recycle,” Sonnett said. “. . . The more you recycle, the longer the landfill is going to last.”

Sonnett said he would like to see more residents recycle. The town is considering applying to have a “sustainable community” label, a state planning department designation given to municipalities that demonstrate a number of environmentally friendly efforts. The designation helps the town qualify for tax credits and grant funding for various projects.

Sonnett said one option to encourage more recycling would be to schedule pickup on the same day as trash pickup so residents only need to gather waste and take it to the curb once per week.

Currently, Prince George’s County’s waste management division picks up trash every Monday and recyclables every Thursday, providing each household with a 95-gallon blue bin for recycling. The town’s public works department handles bulk trash and yard waste, but the town contracts the county to handle regular trash and recycling.

Sonnett said the truck that picks up recyclables from Upper Marlboro goes to several other county areas before taking its collections to be weighed, so how much material the town recycles each week is not known.

Sonnett also mentioned creating a marketing campaign to make residents more aware of the service and benefits of recycling. Residents might simply not think about recycling, he said.

Some Upper Marlboro residents agreed and suggested making information better available about what can be recycled.

“A lot of people don’t know what’s really recyclable and what’s just trash,” said Jackie Haywood, 42, who lives in a townhouse. “It’s just a hassle to separate it and when you’re cooking and trying to throw away cans and paper and different things.”

Resident Angela Simmons, 38, said she has seen a lot of residents recycle and that boosting recycling depends on developing good habits.

“I would like to see recycling increased more. Even twice per week would be better. We have a lot of recycling. From my perspective, I see everybody’s [recycling bin] out on Thursday,” said Simmons, who has lived in an Upper Marlboro townhouse since 2008.

Officials in the county Department of Public Works’ waste management division said they are open to working with the town on any changes.

“We applaud any efforts to increase the recycling results from the town of Upper Marlboro residents and will review the request accordingly,” said Carol Terry, a department of public works spokeswoman.

Upper Marlboro pays $12,000 a year for the county pickup service.

Sonnett said the town first will discuss revisions to the service with the county and then decide whether to move forward or seek a contract with another recycling service.

Sonnett said the town submitted a letter to the county to begin discussions concerning potential changes.

“Hopefully, we can get them to the table and figure out how we can increase the recycling rate. That’s the main issue,” he said.

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