YARMOUTH — The town won’t be ready to move to a new pay-per-bag system of household waste disposal by Jan. 1 2020, as originally planned.

Town Manager Nat Tupper said the council will receive an update on the reasons for the delay from Public Works Director Eric Street during a workshop scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, at the American Legion Log Cabin, 196 Main St.

Yarmouth is delaying the launch of its new pay-per-bag system of trash disposal. The Town Council will get an update on the reasons why this week. File / Kate Irish Collins

Requiring residents to buy special trash bags to dispose of household trash is tied to an upgrade at the transfer station that’s estimated at $500,000, but Tupper told The Forecaster this week that construction at the transfer station likely won’t start until next spring, assuming required permits and financing lined up.

After many years of discussion and debate, the Town Council initially approved pay-per-bag this past April.

The goal is to realign the transfer station to accommodate two new compactors, one for trash and one for recycling. Other site improvements, including new traffic patterns, would be launched before the special trash bag requirement.

While pay-per-bag has sometimes been controversial, more than 130 other communities in Maine have adopted the system so far, including Cumberland, Falmouth, North Yarmouth, Portland, Gorham, Durham and Topsham.

This past winter Street told councilors that the biggest benefits of pay-per-bag are the equity it provides in sharing the costs of trash disposal, since residents are only paying for what they choose to throw away. He also said the system provides a significant incentive for residents to increase recycling.

The hope is that with pay-per-bag Yarmouth could get to a 40 percent recycling rate, Street said earlier this year. The town’s recycling rate is now about 36 percent.

While the town is making a significant investment in the transfer station upgrades, Street said Yarmouth’s overall costs for disposing of household waste should drop by about $100,000 annually, including estimated revenue of about $265,000 from the sale of trash bags. Today it costs the town $545,000 to take household trash to the ecomaine plant in Portland.

Yarmouth hasn’t yet determined how much the special trash bags will cost, but Portland charges $1.50 per 15-gallon bag and $3 per 30-gallon bag, while Falmouth charges $1.46 for a 20-gallon bag and $2.08 for a 33-gallon bag.

Once the town is ready to launch the pay-per-bag system, trash bags will be available for sale from local retail outlets, according to a recent e-newsletter.

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