WASHINGTON – Six years after the deadline, the state government has failed to meet its goal of recycling 20 percent of its trash.
And Virginia Lipscomb, a Maryland Department of the Environment recycling official, said that she expects the next report on state agencies’ recycling rate to show a drop of 1 percent from the previous year’s 18 percent.
The 1988 Maryland Recycling Act that set mandatory minimum recycling goals for counties – 20 percent for those with more and 150,000 residents and 15 percent for the smaller ones – also required that the state create a recycling plan for the government.
That plan called on the state government to “reduce state agency generated waste by at least 20 percent or an amount economically feasible, but in no event less than 10 percent.” The state and county governments were supposed to meet their respective goals by 1994.
The Department of Environment said the counties have met their goals consistently since 1994, but state government as a whole never hit the 20 percent mark.
The department said that in 1998, the last year for which figures are available, half of state agencies had not reached the 20 percent goal. Of those agencies, more than 60 percent were recycling less than the 10 percent minimum.
“We think it is important that all government agencies follow the same kind of laws that all citizens follow,” said Lance King, a spokesman for the GrassRoots Recycling Network.
He said that agencies are falling behind citizen’s recycling efforts, which he called “the most popular way that Americans express their commitment to the environment.” The latest figures show Marylanders overall are recycling at a rate of 36 percent.
State agencies gave varying reasons for their failure to meet the recycling goals.
Building manager Jack Shandrowski said that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was actually recycling more than the 11 percent indicated in the state report in 1998, because the Department of General Services “gets credit for our recycling” since they share offices.
A spokesman for the Maryland State Police, which had an 8 percent recycling rate in 1998, said police are increasing their recycling efforts.
“We do recycle everything that we need to,” said Cpl. Rob Moroney. “We are working to reach that 20 percent goal.”
The State Archives had a recycling rate of 6 percent in 1998, but agency recycling coordinator Kathy Beard said she expects the archives to meet the state’s goals in the future because it recently started recycling cardboard.
“We are in the business of keeping paper not throwing it away, so perhaps that is our problem,” Beard said.