WATERVILLE — The city last week collected nearly seven fewer tons of trash than it collected during the same week last year because of a new recycling program, officials said Monday.

“We had a lot of participation in recycling last week,” said Public Works Director Mark Turner. “It’s very, very encouraging, how many people participated.”

The city picked up 67.3 tons of municipal solid waste last week compared with 74.23 tons during the same week last year, according to Bob Gilchrist, operations manager for the city’s Public Works Department.

“Normally, we get about 15 to 18 tons per day,” he said.

Gilchrist did not yet have results early Monday afternoon on how many tons of recyclable material Sullivan’s Waste, which is handling recycling collections, picked up last week and trucked to Ecomaine in Portland.

Turner was on vacation Monday, but noted that not a lot can be read into the figures from last week’s trash collection, as it is summertime and the trash flow can fluctuate because people are eating out, college students are not in town and many people are vacationing.

Residents started recycling last week as part of the new pay-as-you-throw trash collection system that starts in September. People taking part in the program must buy special bags to put their trash in and place at the curb. They also will put recyclable materials into a recycling container to place at the curb on regular trash collection days.

City officials started the recycling program this month to help prepare people for the pay-as-you-throw system. The requirement that residents purchase designated trash bags for rubbish pick-up means that recycling will save money by leaving less trash to be stuffed into bags.

City Manager Michael Roy said Monday that the trash tonnage collection results for last week are encouraging.

“There may be some variables at play we don’t all know about, but (a) 10 percent reduction, I think, is significant and certainly encouraging,” Roy said. “We’re going to continue to watch the results weekly and report on how it’s coming, how it’s going and how the tonnages are.”

Roy said reducing the city’s waste stream is the goal.

“It’s what represents the biggest financial benefit,” he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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