The town has entered a new, three-year contract with Ecomaine to dispose of its recyclable materials. Residents can dispose of their recycling curbside or in town bins, like the one pictured here.. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

OLD ORCHARD BEACH – The town of Old Orchard Beach has entered a new, three-year contract with Ecomaine to dispose of recycling material that will reflect any fluctuations with the market.

Old Orchard Beach has long been using waste management company Ecomaine to process its recyclable material, which averages about 600 tons a year. According to data from Ecomaine, Old Orchard Beach had a 65 percent recycling rate in the 2018 fiscal year, the highest of all the 59 communities the company served.

For many years, recycling disposal for the town was free, but as overseas markets for recyclables have dried up, Ecomaine now charges municipalities for disposal of recyclables. As Town Manager Larry Mead said at a meeting earlier this year, “the free ride is over.”

The town’s contract with Ecomaine expired in April and the town has been on a month-to-month arrangement since then, pending a new, three-year contract, which the Town Council approved Tuesday night.

Mead said the Town Council appropriated sufficient funds during the budget season to cover an estimated cost of $90 a ton. However, under the new contract, the price per month will vary depending on the quantity of materials handled and the market price for that month, according to written council commentary.

The agreement “really makes us a partner with Ecomaine” and recognizes any shifts in market conditions, said Mead. Should “good time return,” and the market improves, he said, than the town’s cost will be reduced.

Under the terms of the contract, the town can opt out of the agreement at the end of each fiscal year.

The contract states that the town may be charged for contaminated recycling, or an influx of non-recyclable material in the recycling stream. Fees begin at $35 a ton for recycling that has 6 to 10 percent contaminates by volume and are adjusted incrementally.

Common contaminants include paper towels, Styrofoam cups and plastic bags, items that some people think might be recyclable, but definitely are not.

For information on what can and cannot go into the recycling bin, consult Ecomaine’s “recyclopedia,” a searchable directory available on Ecomaine’s website or as an app.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be reached at 780-9015 or by email at [email protected].

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