Howard County public works officials are recommending that county businesses pick up the bulk of costs for a state-required recycling program through higher fees for landfill dumping.

The county has proposed increasing fees for dumping trash at the Alpha Ridge landfill up to $95 a ton to help pay for building and operating new recycling and composting centers. The dumping charge, or tipping fee, is currently $45 a ton, up from $18 in June 1989.

Tipping fees fall heaviest on businesses that rely on private haulers to collect and dispose of their garbage. Haulers who collect residential trash in the county do not have to pay the fee, said Linda Fields, manager of the county's recycling program.

Fields said the increased tipping fees also would provide an economic incentive for businesses -- who account for 60 percent of the trash dumped at the landfill -- to recycle more of their waste.

The county's business community has yet to take a position on the proposal, said Carol Baily, executive director of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce.

The proposal to increase tipping fees is outlined in a recycling plan the county sent to the state for review.

Under Maryland law, Howard County must recycle at least 20 percent of its solid waste by 1994. About 4 percent of the county's trash is recycled now through voluntary programs.

After the state reviews the report, it will be sent to the County Council for approval, Fields said.

Barry Scher, a spokesman for Giant Food and a member of the county task force that helped prepare the report, said the county's plan to increase tipping fees is similar to proposals being offered by counties around the state.

"Everybody, including the business community, has to get involved," said Scher, who called the higher fees "the penalty {businesses} pay for not recycling more."

Fields said the county hopes to exceed the state's mandate and recycle about 28 percent of its garbage by 1994. To do that, the county has proposed curbside pickup of recyclable goods for residents by October 1993. About 12,000 homes in the Columbia area already receive this service as part of a pilot project that collects plastic bottles, newspapers, cans and glass.

To sort the trash so it can be recycled, the county has proposed building a $4.2 million material recovery center.

The county also wants to build a $2.3 million center to turn leaves, brush, branches, wood and grass clippings into compost. The material recovery center would be built by October 1993 and the composting center would be in operation by April 1992, the report said. When the composting center is operating, the county would regularly collect residential yard wastes left near the curb.

Fields said the day-to-day costs of the recycling program will depend on the markets and technology available for recycling.

It currently costs the county about $75 a ton to collect and dispose of trash in the county's only landfill. It costs about $60 a ton to collect and recycle the plastics, newspapers, cans and glass that are gathered as part of the pilot project, she said.