College Park, Greenbelt and Hyattsville officials are concerned about Prince George’s County’s 10-year plan to dispose of waste, which they said does not offer enough solutions to reduce the amount of waste produced in the county.
The municipalities sent letters to the county requesting more ideas to reduce the production of waste, which could include increasing ways to compost trash and recycle as they said the current county landfill will be full sooner than county officials’ estimates of 2020.
“There is a good amount of interest in the city for being environmentally responsible and implementing sustainable practices, and this hits into that agenda,” said Hyattsville City Councilman David Hiles (Ward 2) of the letter officials sent to the county.
One of the major projects proposed under the county’s 10-year plan is the addition of a transfer station that would ship trash to landfills outside the county. The county will accept bids from landfill operators on where to dump the trash when the transfer station is built, said Dennis Bigley, deputy director of the county’s Department of Environmental Resources in an email to The Gazette.
But Hyattsville’s letter criticized the plan for the transfer station, which officials saw as the only major solution the county has proposed to deal with waste, according to their letter to the county.
“We want to reduce the amount of waste in the actual stream, not just do something different with the existing stream,” Hiles said.
The county’s waste proposal says officials will adapt the Western Branch Compositing Facility in Upper Marlboro so it can process food waste as well as yard waste. But officials in the three cities believe that there should be more efforts to increase local composting for residents as well, according to the letters.
Bigley said the plan was a draft document that was open for discussion and he was pleased to see local officials commenting on it. He said funding for increasing food compositing was added to the fiscal year 2013 county budget.
Hiles said the city has already taken measures to reduce waste production. Hyattsville officials moved from collecting trash twice a week to once a week, which Hiles said helped to reduce the amount of trash city residents produced.
College Park officials have set up a task force focused on helping businesses find ways to increase recycling, said City Councilman Patrick L. Wojahn (Dist. 1).
“We have some concerns about the solid waste plan not being as aggressive enough of an approach in terms of doing enough to reduce the amount of waste the county produces,” he said.
Bigley said the Brown Station Sanitary Landfill in Upper Marlboro, which opened in 1968, should last at least until 2020.
Community activists also are calling for more direct measures to reduce waste.
College Park resident Suchitra Balachandran, director of the nonprofit environmental activist group Community Research, said one way to reduce waste would be to charge residents by the amount of waste that they produce. Some cities, such as Austin, Texas, charge residents a fee for having extra bags that do not fit into their trash bin, and other cities charge residents based on the weight of their trash, she said.
Hiles said he does not support charging residents for the amount of trash they produce and said city officials will continue their dialogue with the county on how to revise the solid waste plan.
This story originally appeared in the Oct. 26 edition of the Prince George's Gazette.