BRUNSWICK FINANCE DIRECTOR JULIA HENZE holds up a bag from the town’s garbage bag supplier to show the color the town’s future trash bags will be once the current bags are out of circulation.

BRUNSWICK FINANCE DIRECTOR JULIA HENZE holds up a bag from the town’s garbage bag supplier to show the color the town’s future trash bags will be once the current bags are out of circulation.

BRUNSWICK

Starting in July, it will cost twice as much for a pay-as-you-throw trash bag in Brunswick. After 11 years without an increase, councilors decided Monday to raise the retail cost of the bags.

The hike was recommended by both the Recycling and Sustainability and Finance committees.

MIKE WILSON, chairman of the Brunswick Recycling and Sustainability Committee, tells councilors on Monday why the committee recommended raising the cost of pay-as-you-throw trash bags.

MIKE WILSON, chairman of the Brunswick Recycling and Sustainability Committee, tells councilors on Monday why the committee recommended raising the cost of pay-as-you-throw trash bags.

The town began its pay-as-you-throw program in 2007. Since then, the price per bag has remained at 50 cents for a 15-gallon bag and $1 for a 33-gallon bag.

When the fee increase goes into effect, Brunswick residents will pay $1 for a 15-gallon bag and $2 for a 33- gallon bag.

Compared to six municipalities recently surveyed by Yarmouth, the fees are low. The survey shows the average cost for the smaller bag is $1.26 each and $2.38 per larger bag in other municipalities.

The revenue generated from Brunswick’s bag program helps the town offset its share of the $7 million it will cost to close the Graham Road landfill, scheduled for 2020. It also promotes reduction of waste by creating an incentive to recycle.

Nearly 20 years ago, the state set a goal that would have Maine communities recycling up to 50 percent of their waste, according to Recycling and Sustainability Committee Chairman Mike Wilson.

According to a study by Colby College, leading communities in that initiative are York with a 67 recycling rate and Yarmouth at 65 percent.

Brunswick was only at 14 percent as of 2014.

“So there’s room for improvement,” Wilson said.

Closing the landfill won’t do away with waste management expenses, Wilson said, as the town must still find a means to dispose of trash.

“This is a user fee, and not a tax,” he said, “but those who generate more waste are going to have to pay for it.

“In general, lower income people generate less waste than middle and upper income people,” Wilson added.

Recycling provides a no-cost alternative.

An avid recycler, Councilor Kathy Wilson said she recently read that many items get placed in recycling that don’t belong.

“I found, in looking it over, I don’t really know everything that can and can’t be recycled in the single stream recycling,” she said, “so a bit of some kind of education around that would be good.”

Councilor Christopher Watkinson suggested the town update the bag costs more often — and incrementally — to avoid sticker shock in the future.

When the existing green trash bags run out, the new bags will change color and have more of a teal hue. The color change is unrelated to the price change and the green bags will still be picked up as of July 1.

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