Short end of stick

To the Editor:

I would like to begin this letter by stating that I recycle as much as possible – mixed paper, aluminum, steel, plastics (#2 only!), glass and cardboard. I use newspapers to start fires in my wood furnace, so I seldom, if ever, recycle newspapers.

I fully support recycling as much as possible. But the system that our town uses needs to be equitable and reasonable.

Additionally, I try to further reduce my volume of trash by composting everything from vegetable matter, egg shells and lint to paper. I have three active composters, so I believe that I’m doing as much as I can to reduce the trash volume.

I have several points I’d like to make regarding the idea of pay-per-bag trash disposal fees.

I have read coverage in the Islander, including a story with the headline “Pay-per-bag to go to vote.” It talks about the ability or willingness of hotels and restaurants to sort their waste and recycle more. Town Councilor Peter St. Germain is quoted as stating “and frankly, there’s no time or staff or money to engage in those sorts of efforts. It won’t happen.”

So if the bulk of the business community won’t be participating in an expanded effort to recycle more and reduce the amount of trash, then the expectation must be that this will primarily be accomplished by the residents, putting the burden on our shoulders yet again.

If the pay-per-bag plan is an effort to reduce trash and increase recycling, then I believe that the town needs to increase what can be recycled. For instance, in many communities, more of the types of plastics (1 through 7) are recyclable.

Currently in Bar Harbor, only Resin Identification Code type 2 (HDPE) plastics are recyclable.

If the town wants the residents to recycle more, especially since the business community will de facto not be participating in this effort, then the town needs to provide an opportunity for more items to be recycled.

If a pay-per-bag plan is started, it is predicted that there will be a property tax reduction, but that residents will pay $1 to $2 per bag of trash. Note that the first item is only predicted by the for-profit organization trying to sell this idea to the town. The second item (paying per bag of trash) would be a certainty. So if the expected property tax savings are not realized when the pay-per-bag plan goes into effect, how many of you want to bet that the residents will get the short end of the stick yet again?

In summary, I do not believe that the pay-per-bag plan has been fully thought out for this town. Hopefully the cost burden will not fall directly and solely upon residents’ shoulders.

Scott Hughes

Bar Harbor

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