AUGUSTA — Residents of the nine communities that have their garbage hauled to Hatch Hill landfill in Augusta could eventually be required to pay by the bag.

The Kennebec Regional Recycling Committee, in a presentation similar to one already made in the eight communities that send waste to Hatch Hill, outlined several steps that would increase recycling in the region.

Judy Dorsey, a committee representative from Gardiner, said recycling rates in the region are much lower than the state average and need to increase.

She said the committee’s most controversial recommendation is a pay-as-you-throw system, in which residents would have to buy special trash bags to get rid of garbage headed to Hatch Hill. The bags would be more expensive than regular trash bags, because their sales would be largely to fund operations at Hatch Hill.

The idea is to charge to dispose of waste, but not for recyclable items that are properly recycled, committee members said.

“It provides incentive to recycle, because the almighty buck talks,” Dorsey said.

The committee has been meeting regularly and was formed with a focus on recycling in the nine municipalities that send waste to Hatch Hill: Augusta, Chelsea, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Hallowell, Manchester, Pittston, Randolph and Whitefield.

Besides the pay-as-you-throw proposal, the recycling committee recommends:

* elimination of tipping fees at Hatch Hill, with that funding source replaced by the proceeds from sales of the specially designated trash bags;

* dramatically increase the numbers and types of items that can be taken to Hatch Hill, including most types of plastic and mixed paper. Dorsey said Hatch Hill currently only accepts clear plastic, and the committee recomends it take different kinds of plastic;

* creation of a dual-sort recycling system, in which instead of having to separate all types of recyclable materials, users would only have to sort recyclables into two containers — one for fibers such as paper and cardboard, the other for plastics;

* voluntary participation by the nine municipalities, though those not participating would likely have to pay more to dispose of waste.

Councilors expressed interest in the proposal, but asked a lot of questions about how it would work and how much it would cost.

“We’re going down the right road, headed in the right direction,” Councilor David Rollins said. “We’ve just got to figure out how it’s going to work.”

Mayor William Stokes said when he was running for office, many Augusta residents asked him why Augusta doesn’t recycle more items.

Dorsey said one reason Hatch Hill doesn’t recycle more is it doesn’t have enough space to store recyclable materials.

She said locally based private trash hauler Riverside Disposal is attempting to buy land in the area to create a large transfer station, where the firm could handle more recyclables. She said Augusta could be a customer of Riverside, sending some of the recyclables collected at Hatch Hill to the potential new transfer station.

Dorsey said she anticipates the committee could have a more detailed proposal in the fall.

Lesley Jones, the city’s public works director, said the proposed new system could work financially, but would require a change in thinking.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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