TREMONT — When asked on Monday if they wanted the town to do away with the recycling bins outside the town office and put all their trash in one container to eventually be sent to Coastal Resources of Maine in Hampden, two selectmen said, “get rid of the dumpsters and go for it.”
Select Board Chair Jamie Thurlow said he was hesitant to make the big switch, but voted in favor of moving to a new disposal system for the town.
“I don’t want us to get rid of all the dumpsters and then have unforeseen costs,” he said.
Selectmen voted unanimously to remove the recycle bins at the town office as soon as practical and change to the one-bin system.
Residents of Tremont currently bring their trash to Eastern Maine Recycling (EMR) in Southwest Harbor and their recycling to the recycling containers outside the town office. Earlier this year, EMR switched to including recycled materials in its trash because the waste was being hauled to Coastal Resources, the Fiberight facility in Hampden.
Currently, recyclable materials in the dumpsters at the Tremont Town Office are picked up and hauled by Gott’s Disposal to the Ellsworth Recycling Center.
Town Manager Chris Saunders said the switch to the one-bin system would shift expenses, but trash and disposal costs to the town would remain about the same.
Currently, the town pays a rental fee for the recycle bins and a hauling fee to Gott’s Disposal. There is a fee paid to the Ellsworth Recycling Center for the recycled items brought there, but a return on whatever can be sold into the open market.
With the one-bin system, the town will pay an increase in tonnage for hauling the co-mingled waste to Hampden.
“I believe it is environmentally equivalent,” said Carey Donovan who is the town’s representative on the Acadia Disposal District (ADD) board. “It just feels so wrong to tell everybody to just put everything in the trash.”
Mount Desert recently decided to end its contract with the Ellsworth Recycling Center. That arrangement takes effect Dec. 31, ADD Chair Tony Smith said in a memo to the Tremont selectmen.
Tremont’s contract ends in June, but member towns of ADD have the option of ending their contract with the Ellsworth center at any time with a 60-day written notice.
Following Monday’s meeting, Saunders said he contacted the Ellsworth facility to give the 60-day notice of the town’s intent to stop sending materials there.
An annual fee of $26,000 was shared among the member towns, which include Trenton, Mount Desert, Frenchboro and Tremont. With Trenton and Mount Desert recently terminating their contracts with the Ellsworth center, the other participating towns’ fees could increase, Smith said.
In the past, that fee was often offset by a return on recycled materials sold into the open market, but that market has struggled in the last couple of years.
“The recycling world is probably at the worst point it’s going to be at,” Donovan told selectmen. “It’s going to get better from here.”
Saunders said he is concerned that for a switch in trash and recycling disposal instructions can be confusing for residents. Earlier this year, the number of items that were accepted by the Ellsworth facility decreased, which required residents to change habits they had developed.
“It will be a big learning curve,” said Saunders at the meeting. “I think if we don’t have the dumpsters out there people will think the town doesn’t care about recycling.”