YARMOUTH — After closing two satellite sites used just for recycling, the Town Council is now offering an alternative.

Like many local communities, Yarmouth is struggling with contamination issues in its recycling loads, which is costing the town money.

On May 1 the town closed the two satellite locations on Route 88 and on Route 1. That left the transfer station as the only option for recyclers.

The problem was to access the transfer station, vehicles had to display a current dump sticker, which costs $25. But that placed an extra financial obstacle in front of residents who used the satellite recycling sites and didn’t need trash disposal.

Now, a $1 recycling-only sticker is available at Town Hall.

Town Manager Nate Tupper said this week that the the goal is to provide a recycling incentive, particularly for businesses and residents of apartment complexes that have commercial trash pickup.

It’s too soon to know whether closing the satellite sites has led to a decline in the overall rate of recycling, but Tupper said traffic at the transfer station has increased over the past couple months.

Yarmouth is one of the more than 70 communities in southern Maine that belong to ecomaine, the waste management nonprofit based in Portland. Ecomaine has begun charging communities for recycling, in part because of the global collapse in the recycling market and partly due to high contamination rates.

Tupper said while recycling is still better for the environment than trash disposal, it’s no longer free and is now a significant annual cost to the town.

Materials provided to the Town Council this spring show Yarmouth will be charged $35 per ton for recycling, which is expected to cost about $35,000 annually for the 1,000 tons of recycling it sends to ecomaine.

In addition, any recycling loads with contamination rates above 26% will be invoiced at the trash disposal rate of $73 per ton.

Residents could help by being mindful of what they put into their recycling bins, Tupper said.

For instance, he said, plastic shopping bags, shrink wrap, and similar materials cannot be recycled. A full list of acceptable recyclable materials can be found on the ecomaine website, at www.ecomaine.org/recyclopedia/.

In general, magazines, newspaper and paperboard can be recycled, as well as all plastic containers marked 1-7, tin cans, and glass bottles and jars.

Along with tightening control over what goes into its recycling loads, the town also plans to implement a pay-to-throw waste disposal program sometime in 2020.

The change was approved by the council this spring, and will be accompanied by upgrades at the transfer station.

Under pay-to-throw, residents must purchase specially marked trash bags. The fee for the bags has yet to be determined, but prices in the region range from $1.09 to $2.14 per bag, depending on size.

In terms of changes at the transfer station, the town plans to replace its aging trash compactor and buy a second compactor for recycling only.

Traffic patterns will also be adjusted for the safer flow of cars and pedestrians and the transfer station buildings will be reconfigured for more efficient operations.

Tupper said the town hopes to break ground on the approximately $500,000 capital project next year, with engineering and design being completed this fall.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 780-9097 or [email protected]. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

After Yarmouth closed two local sites for recycling, residents can now get a $1 recycling-only sticker for access to the transfer station.

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