If residents in Benton and Clinton don’t take advantage of a recycling program set to take effect Jan. 2, they face the possibility of fee-based solid-waste disposal.

At least that’s the view of Benton Selectman Antoine Morin, a key supporter of the two towns’ shift to single-stream recycling.

“Our recycling rate is 13 percent at the Clinton-Benton transfer station. That’s abysmal. The state average is 35 percent,” he said this week.

The Clinton Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a 3.5-year contract Wednesday for Casella Resource Solutions to provide single-stream recycling services at the transfer station.

While Clinton owns the station and can negotiate the contract unilaterally, Benton has contracted solid-waste disposal and recycling services at the station for years.

The Benton Board of Selectmen signed a contract last week extending its use of the station for five more years and giving Clinton the go-ahead to negotiate a contract with Casella.

The switch to single-stream recycling eliminates the need for residents to sort their recyclables and allows residents to recycle more materials than they currently do.

Officials with both towns say they hope the added convenience will entice more residents to recycle, estimating that increasing the recycling rate to just 20 percent will save the two towns a combined $5,000 a year.

“The alternative if we don’t start bending the cost curve of waste disposal is fee-based disposal, and I would hate to go down that road,” Morin said.

Under a fee-based system, residents would pay for every bag of garbage they dispose at the station to either cover the town’s cost of disposing of the waste or encourage them to recycle.

The shift comes as municipal officials predict tipping fees at the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company, where Clinton and Benton currently haul their garbage, could double in 2018 when a 30-year contract with municipalities across the state expires and disposal prices more closely reflect the price of electricity the company sells.

“It was a sweet deal, and now the time is up,” Morin said. “Somebody has got to pay the piper.”

Benton town officials will host a meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 29, at the Benton Town Office to provide the public information about the new program and answer any questions.

Clinton-Benton transfer station Director Gerald Howard said a Casella representative will be at the station Saturday, Dec. 20, to help educate the public as to the coming changes.

Materials that can be recycled under the new program include plastics No. 1 through 7 as well as semi-rigid plastics such as lawn furniture and blister packaging.

Residents will no longer need to remove caps from containers under the new system, and other recyclable materials will include glass, steel, aluminum, paper and cardboard.

Casella Assistant General Manager Jim Dunning said the company will send postcards to all residents in both towns before Jan. 2 advising them of changes and detailing what can and can’t be recycled.

Evan Belanger — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @evanbelanger


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