AUGUSTA — Residents could recycle more types of items without sorting them under a proposed new single-stream recycling pilot program city councilors plan to discuss Thursday.

The proposal, offered by Portland-based ecomaine at the request of city officials, would put roll-off recycling containers at the Hatch Hill landfill, Augusta City Center and the Public Works Department site on North Street. It would cost about $25,000 for the six-month trial period to cover the projected cost of transporting the containers of unsorted recyclables to ecomaine, where they would be processed, according to Public Works Director Lesley Jones.

For several years, residents have expressed a desire to recycle more items in Augusta, where a limited variety of sorted recyclable materials are accepted now. City crews also pick up some recyclables curbside, though Jones said residents’ use of that program also has been limited.

“The idea with this pilot is to determine what our residents’ appetite for enhanced recycling options is,” City Manager William Bridgeo said. “It’s a chance to test this out.”

Ecomaine, which opened a facility to process single-sort recyclables in 2007 that can process 18 tons of single-sort materials in an hour, would accept and process recyclables from Augusta at no charge. But the city also would not receive any revenue for the recyclable materials brought there, including cardboard. Depending on markets, sometimes recyclable materials have resale value, while other times they don’t, or there could be a cost to get rid of them.

Ecomaine is a nonprofit waste management company owned and operated by 20 municipalities in Maine.


Lissa Bittermann, ecomaine’s business development manager, said in her 25-page proposal to the city that the commodities markets are depressed now, so ecomaine would take an immediate financial loss processing Augusta’s single-sort materials. As a result,the proposal includes a requirement that the city also send ecomaine all its “clean” cardboard received and compacted at Hatch Hill, which, she said, ecomaine then would intend to sell to recoup the cost of processing the city’s single-sort materials.

“The hope is that both parties will benefit from this arrangement,” her proposal to the city states. “Augusta will have its single-sort recyclables processed at no cost and ecomaine will hopefully cover our losses on this processing by receiving the city’s clean cardboard and being able to sell it and retain the revenue.”

The city, Bridgeo said, will continue its existing curbside recyclables collection during the trial period.


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