Photo by Staff file photo by Skip Lawrence
director of the county’s Utilities and Solid Waste Management
Division, is preparing a strategy to be considered by commissioners next
month on how to deal with solid waste disposal in the next 35 years.
The Frederick County
Commissioners will begin developing a strategy next month to guide solid
waste disposal policy for the next 35 years.
Their decisions will likely shape whether
they opt to build the proposed incinerator designed to burn trash and
generate electricity from the heat created.
The commissioners will look at bids on
building such a plant at the end of October. Before they can evaluate the
bids, they must make overall strategy decisions to accommodate increasing
amounts of trash as landfill space declines, said Michael Marschner, the
director of the county's Utilities and Solid Waste Management Division.
Incineration, or waste-to-energy as Marschner
calls it, has been opposed by some who say it can be environmentally harmful
and expensive for county coffers.
But Marschner thinks the commissioners need
to decide soon how to proceed, since the county is trucking waste out of
"Eventually, they will have to make
some tough decisions about what we're going to do," Marschner said.
"It needs to happen in the next couple of months because we need to be
given some direction."
He is preparing a report and a 2 1Ú2-hour
PowerPoint presentation on his integrated waste management strategy proposal
to deliver to the commissioners on Oct. 22.
Marschner anticipates his plan will include
increasing recycling county-wide and for government agencies, building a
waste-to-energy plant, preventing waste through different programs and
education and instituting recycling programs for electronic waste such as cell
After he presents it to the commissioners,
he will ask them for feedback and find out what they would like to change.
The goal is to find long-term solutions to
the county's waste challenges and agree on ways to implement them, he said.
The county already has a 12-year "Solid
Waste Management Plan," which is the official document guiding waste
policy. It is part of the county's comprehensive plan and a major rewrite on
it is not due until 2017. The county completes updates roughly every three years
Marschner said the integrated waste
management strategy will help provide context to decisions commissioners make
in the 12-year plans until 2042. The strategy looks out to the county's
theoretical build-out point where the county has been developed fully.
The items in the strategy will not be
officially adopted by the board of commissioners. Instead, it will document the options
and describe why the commissioners and staff think different options present
the most holistic guide to waste disposal over time.
Any items the commissioners want to formally
move forward with will have to be reconsidered for adoption in the Solid
Waste Management Plan, which goes through an extensive hearing process and
review by the Maryland Department of the Environment.
"This just sets the stage for
discussion on those options," Marshner said.
The county's landfill on Reich's Ford Road
is short on space. The landfill has a remaining capacity of about 600,000
tons. Without out-of-state waste transfer, it would be full in about 2 1Ú2
years. With transferring it to Virginia, the landfill's life has been extended to 2040 or
Marschner said critics of waste-to-energy
plants or building another landfill often suggest technology will eventually
create better solutions, like nuclear fusion or other devices.
"If you start saying, well one day
there'll be a solution, my question is what am I going to do with the 800
tons per day waste handled by the landfill today?" Marshner said.
Likewise, he criticized those who suggest
the county can attain a 100 percent recycling rate with no waste to send to a
landfill or to burn.
"There is no way to get to 100 percent
recycling or the zero waste strategy that's been proposed," Marschner
said. "Somebody's got to put a realistic tone on this discussion."
His strategy will call for increased
recycling and separate rates for recycling and landfilling to incentivise
recycling through higher costs for landfilling.
Some of the commissioners embraced
increasing recycling when they discussed the strategy briefly earlier this
"The only way I think we're gonna get
people's attention is to make it obvious they're paying more for
wastefulness," said Commissioner David Gray. "You appeal to the
highest principles and you reach a certain level. And there's other people
only the pocketbook, I think, will wake up."
Commissioners President Jan Gardner said she
would like the strategy to include recycling for multi-family homes and
They did not indicate where they stand on
incineration, but many have made comments indicating they are leaning toward
support of it.