With Brunswick’s Graham Road landfill closing on April 1, town officials will soon decide whether to contract with two firms on a waste disposal plan that could cost $1.29 million a year.

The town is weighing whether to sign a contract with ecomaine for curbside waste disposal, a nonprofit waste management company, that the town estimates would cost roughly $493,475 a year.

Trash and recycling would continue to be collected by Casella Waste Systems but transported to ecomaine’s facilities in Portland.

The town estimates that the cost of collection and transport through Casella would be around $803,391 a year. The costs are contingent on the amount of waste Brunswick generates.

Brunswick has the option to contract solely with Casella, and could save about $86,225 a year, if they forego the option to have their trash brought to a waste-to-energy incinerator. For an additional $32,636 a year, Casella does offer the town guaranteed waste-to-energy disposal, instead of the landfill.

In the fiscal year of 2019/2020 disposal, collection and transportation of garbage and recycling cost the town $1,197,314. This includes garbage being brought to the Graham Road landfill and Casella’s management of the recyclables.

However, according to Recycling and Sustainability Committee Chairperson Jamie Ecker, choosing ecomaine could effectively lower the town’s municipal net greenhouse gas emissions by around 80%, and noted that landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the U.S.

Once in Portland, the garbage would always be processed through ecomaine’s waste-to-energy facility, which is a process that typically combusts solid-waste to produce electricity.

“Given ecomaine’s extremely limited capacity for new customers, they are almost full,” said Ecker said. “We feel strongly that the town needs to expedite this decision while this opportunity is still available.”

According to Brunswick’s Finance Director Julia Henze, trash collection and disposal are funded through the general fund budget.

The town has received a proposal from ecomaine for a 10-year contract that would begin in July. Town Manager John Eldridge said the town council will vote on whether to partner with ecomaine on April 5.

Until the Graham Road landfill closes on April 1, the town’s trash will continue to be brought there, and recyclables will be brought to Casella’s sorting facility in Lewiston.

After April 1, curbside collection will continue as normal through Casella, but trash will be brought to either an alternate landfill or to a waste-to-energy facility. This will continue until July 1, when, to correspond with the fiscal year, the town must decide on what disposal program to choose going forward.

Once the landfill is closed, the town will continue to operate a processing facility at Graham Road, which will accept a limited type of waste including leaves and brush, scrap metal, appliances, electronics and other waste. The processing facility will not accept most other trash, recycling, asphalt shingles, hazardous waste, concrete or masonry and used motor oil.

Ecomaine partners with about 70 communities throughout Maine for waste disposal services.

This story was updated on March 24 to clarify the cost of disposal, collection and transportation of waste and recycling during the fiscal year of 2019/2020.

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