BALTIMORE (November 12, 2004) – As Marylanders take note of America Recycles Day on Monday (Nov. 15), they can also celebrate their success in reducing the amount of rubbish not being sent to landfills.
Eleven years ago, the state’s waste diversion rate, comprised entirely of recycling, was an unimpressive 19 percent. During 2003, however, Maryland’s waste diversion rate, comprised of recycling and source reduction, was just shy of the voluntary 40 percent goal targeted for 2005.
“This demonstrates Marylanders’ dedication to the environment,” said Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “It is an achievement that everyone can be proud of. Nearly 2.6 million tons of solid waste was kept out of landfills due to recycling activities in 2003. By recycling materials rather than throwing them away, everyone is able to help save energy, conserve our natural resources, and create a safer, cleaner environment for future generations.”
The voluntary goal of 40 percent is comprised of the recycling percentage plus up to a 5 percent source reduction credit. The source reduction credit was created by the General Assembly in 2002 to encourage counties to foster good recycling practices and waste reduction at the source among citizens, businesses and government. Maryland is one of only three states that gives credit for source reduction activities.
MDE Waste Management Administration figures show 2003’s waste diversion rate at 39.6 percent--a combination of a 36.8 percent recycling rate and a 2.8 percent source reduction activities credit. In addition, more than 3.8 million tons of materials such as concrete, asphalt, construction and demolition debris, land clearing debris, and scrap metal, that are not counted towards the 36.8 percent recycling rate, were recycled that year.
“It’s amazing when you think about it,” Philbrick said. “In eleven years, Maryland has gone from recycling approximately 900,000 tons to the current 2.6 million tons. It shows tremendous support for recycling in neighborhoods and businesses.”
Maryland is also leading the way in finding solutions to emerging waste management issues. For example, on April 27, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. signed into law House Bill 109 – Electronic Waste Collection Systems requiring MDE to convene a workgroup to study the funding, establishment, and implementation, by January 2006, of an electronic waste collection system in the state. The workgroup has met several times since August and is currently drafting recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly. Since electronics recycling, or eCycling, began in the state in 2001, Maryland residents have recycled more than 5.8 million tons of electronics through 55 collection events, two curbside collection events, and five permanent collection facilities.
The popularity of eCycling programs continues to rise as citizens become more aware of the need to save landfill space and recycle electronics.
Monday [Nov. 15] is America Recycles Day, a national event that unites business, environmental, civic groups, and local, state, federal government agencies to promote recycling, source reduction and buying products made from recycled materials as means to a more sustainable society. MDE will mark the day by hosting the 3rd Annual “Rethink Recycling” sculpture contest Nov. 19. The sculpture contest is a fun and easy way to extol the benefits America Recycles Day represents. High school students across Maryland have created sculptures made of recycled and used materials that would have otherwise gone in the trash. The sculpture contest challenges students to innovatively and artistically use recycled materials as a solution to waste reduction. Forty students have entered the contest and created sculptures made from electronic material, cardboard, plastic, scrap wood, chicken wire, broken compact discs and more. Winners will earn cash and prizes for their effort.
See MDE’s website at: http://mde.maryland.gov/programs/land/RecyclingandOperationsprogram/Pages/recylingrates.aspx for more details. To make a pledge to make everyday America Recycles Day and have a chance to win the national grand prize, a new Ford Escape Hybrid SUV, visit http://www.americarecyclesday.org
Remember, when it comes to recycling, “It All Comes Back To You.”