Baltimore County’s landfill has a new lease on life.
Officials had expected it to be played out in three years. But now they have come up with a plan they believe will keep the trash coming to the landfill in White Marsh until at least 2060.
“Finding new landfill capacity is very difficult,” said Nick Rodricks, the chief of Baltimore County’s Bureau of Solid Waste Management.
He said the key is putting less trash in, likening the landfill to a bathtub.
“If you turn the spigot on all the way, your bathtub fills up pretty quickly,” Rodricks said. “And if you turn it down, obviously your bathtub will take longer to fill up.”
In 2022, the county handled around 480,000 tons of trash going into the landfill. Rodricks said in 2023 that number dropped to around 275,000 tons.
Baltimore County handles Harford County’s trash, too. This fiscal year, it is expecting to get more than $15 million from Harford for the service. Harford’s waste, as well as commercial trash, are now being trucked to a landfill in Virginia.
Rodricks said that reserves the county landfill mostly for “the things we pick up at the house.”
Rodricks said expanding recycling is also buying the landfill more time.
The county has doubled the types of electronic items it will recycle. It has started a textile recycling program. Earlier this month, the county started a small pilot program in a Perry Hall neighborhood to pick up organic items for composting.
In a statement, County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said, “We encourage all residents to become strong stewards of our shared environment by taking advantage of our recycling services.”
It’s estimated the trucking out of trash and recycling will keep the landfill operating until around 2040.
Once that happens, the county wants to extend the landfill’s life by making the trash pile higher, increasing the height nearly 40 feet to 230 feet.
Rodricks said, “In 20 years when we start to see the end of the actual landfill, we’ll have a plan for another 20 years.”
The landfill is in 5th District Republican Councilman David Marks’ district. Marks said in a text that nearby residents “have expressed concerns about the visual impact” of making the landfill higher.
The vertical expansion of the landfill needs approval from the Maryland Department of the Environment. Public meetings on the proposal are expected to be held later this year.
WYPR is a media partner of The Baltimore Banner.