Waterville residents tossed out 5,000 tons of trash in 2013, or roughly 2,500 pounds per residential household. Providing this service cost Waterville Public Works $600,000 last year.

This extremely wasteful system is putting real upward pressure on our property taxes. With Penobscot Energy Recovery Company closing in 2018, trash disposal fees are set to double or even triple. We need a solution now, before Waterville has to pay $2 million every year for trash disposal.

Fortunately, relief is at hand. The Waterville City Council should adopt a pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) system, coupled with single-sort curbside recycling.

The economics are simple. Right now, the city pays about $600,000 every year for trash pickup and disposal. Under PAYT, the city would pay $70,000 for special orange trash bags and $72,000 for curbside recycling pickup, or $142,000 each year. The sales of trash bags would generate about $400,000 and the city would save $97,200 in reduced trash disposal, for a total savings of $497,000. Waterville would save $355,200 in the first year, an amount that would no doubt increase when PERC closes.

Brewer adopted PAYT and single-sort curbside recycling in 2010. The amount of trash put on the curb for pickup has been cut in half, and recycling rates have quadrupled. This has already saved Brewer over $135,000. City officials and most residents are thrilled with the program.

As someone who has studied these systems all over the country, I have found that they typically have proven to be both successful and popular ways to reduce costs while using recyclable materials more sustainably. I urge the City Council to pass PAYT and curbside recycling.

The numbers don’t lie. It makes sense.

Tom TietenbergWaterville

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