Waste management is an ongoing issue that has to be dealt with in all parts of the world. There is no fast solution to how we get rid of the vast amount of waste produced daily, nevertheless there are various ways it can be organized and handled. Here are a few of the options that pertain to Carroll County:
Waste-to-Energy is a broad term for facilities that burn waste in a furnace or boiler to generate heat, steam and/or electricity. Combustion in an incinerator is not always perfect and there have been concerns about micro-pollutants in gaseous emissions from incinerator stacks. Particular concern has focused on some very persistent organics such as dioxins which may be created within the incinerator and which may have serious environmental consequences in the area immediately around the incinerator.
Waste Not! Carroll opposes the county's current plans to partner with Frederick County to build an incinerator. Here are a ten reasons why:
1) The incinerator is an incredibly expensive project: it will cost nearly $600 million just to build the plant!
2) The incinerator will saddle Frederick and Carroll counties with a tremendous debt burden for 30 to 50 years. With the debt service and multimillion dollar annual operating expenses, the incinerator could cost taxpayers over $1B during it 25-50 year life span.
3) The incinerator won't produce much electricity: 55 megawatts is only 1/10th of a full-scale power plant. And it won't be regulated like a power plant, which means a potential for harmful pollutants.
4) The incinerator will put an additional 3,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide per 1 megawatt of generation (times that 55) into our already choker atmosphere.
5) The incinerator will emit mercury and dioxins, and other known human neurotoxins and carcinogens that are invisible to the eye, into our already polluted environment.
6) The incinerator will produce hazardous ash that will be landfilled locally, endangering the health of county employees and local citizens.
7) The Incinerator will promote continued wasteful habits within our communities, as it will require a continual waste stream to operate at a level of acceptable efficiency.
8) The incinerator will forever incinerate recyclable and compostable resources, to make up for the trash deficit that is already a reality, killing the incentive to reduce, reuse and recycle these resources.
9) Because products and packaging are changing, there won't be enough 'trash' to feed the incinerator in the future. So residents should expect to be burdened with additional taxes in the form of fees for not generating enough waste.
10) The incinerator will require trash from additional counties and will even burn sewage sludge to augment the deficit.
Recycling involves processing used materials into new products. Recycling prevents waste of potentially useful materials, reduces the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduces energy usage, reduces air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lowers greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production. Most of the current waste stream can be recycled, including many kinds of glass, paper, metal, plastic, textiles, and electronics. Materials to be recycled are either brought to a collection center or picked up from the curbside, then sorted, cleaned, and reprocessed into new materials bound for manufacturing.
Composting is the process of decomposing organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, with microorganisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) to produce compost. Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants. Because yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 26 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream, composting them offers an inexpensive means of reducing the size of the waste stream by a quarter, while creating a useful product from organic waste.
Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) is a system in which residents pay for each unit of waste discarded rather than paying a fixed fee per residential household. It is equivalent to putting a price tag on each container of trash that is placed at the curb or taken to the landfill or transfer station for disposal. As residents pay directly for waste disposal services, they have a financial incentive to reduce their waste through recycling, composting, and source reduction.