March 18, 2013

Recycling costs on the rise in central, western Maine towns

By Kaitlin Schroeder
Staff Writer

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Ron Slatermanager of the Sandy River Recycling Association loads a 1-ton pallet of cardboard onto the scale in the storage area in Farmington on Thursday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Josephson said the single-stream recycling centers, which were designed originally for urban centers, are slowly expanding into the more rural areas of Maine.

"They're courting the towns and giving them great deals. We're being challenged by competition, which is part of the American economy," she said.

Josephson said she thinks Sandy River offers a higher-quality alternative to single-stream recycling by keeping material separate.

"They've got cat food cans in with the cardboard. The material is going to get contaminated," she said.

The Sandy River Recycling Association began in 1990 in response to recycling legislation that was passed with the goal of increasing recycling to 25 percent of the state's municipal solid waste by 1991 and 50 percent by 1994. Josephson said the state has doubled the amount it recycles since then.

To meet increasing recycling demands, Josephson said, the association was formed as nonprofit run by a volunteer board made up of representatives from its member towns. Today there are 18 member towns and plantations, and residents in the unorganized territories also use nearby members' transfer stations. The association employs three full-time workers.

She said all decisions are made at board meetings by the volunteer members. She said while cuts affect the towns, they were agreed on by the towns through the board.

"We are owned by the towns and are very much a part of the community. We're trying to do our best," she said.

Kaitlin Schroeder— 861-9252

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