According to the Waterville Public Works Department, the city’s residents generated 10 million pounds of trash in 2013. With 4,100 residential households, that equals nearly 2,500 pounds of trash for every Waterville household every year, or about 6.5 pounds per day.
All of this trash is picked up and taken to the Oakland transfer station, trucked up to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. plant in Orrington, incinerated, then put in the Juniper Ridge landfill. Not only is this devastating to the environment, it is expensive. Waterville spends $600,000 every year on solid waste collection and disposal.
Waterville is generating way too much trash, and it is costing taxpayers greatly.
I am thrilled to hear that the Waterville City Council is considering adopting a pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) system for trash disposal. A recommendation of the Waterville solid waste and recycling working group, PAYT and curbside zero-sort recycling will save Waterville money, reduce solid waste tonnage sent to PERC, and dramatically increase recycling rates. With PERC closing in 2018, trash disposal rates are set to double or even triple.
More than 130 Maine towns already have PAYT, including Fairfield and Brewer. Those towns have seen their recycling rates go up and their garbage disposal fees drop dramatically.
Not only will PAYT save Waterville about $355,000 in the first year, it will pay for single-sort curbside recycling pickup. We will be able to put all recyclables in one bin on the curb next to our trash, which will greatly increase Waterville’s recycling rate. I am more than willing to pay $2 per bag to see this adopted.
I urge the City Council to pass pay-per-bag and single-sort curbside recycling. It’s the right thing to do.