AUGUSTA — A drop-off, single-sort recycling program kicks off Friday, starting a six-month experiment in which residents will be able to recycle more types of materials.

Residents won’t have to sort different types of recyclable materials from each other, only from their garbage.

The city’s curbside program, in which residents have to sort recyclables and which doesn’t take as many types of materials, will continue during the single-sort trial.

With single-sort, all recyclables — cardboard, metal, glass, plastic and paper — can be dropped together in containers at Hatch Hill landfill and the John Charest Public Works Facility on North Street. There will be a third container in the parking lot at Augusta City Center once snow melts.

The single-sort recycling container at the public works complex will be accessible during operating hours 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. There will be no charge to use it and no sticker is required.

A container at the landfill, which takes waste from Augusta and seven other area municipalities, will be accessible from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Users of the Hatch Hill recycling container will be charged $1 for one bag of recyclables or a minimum of $2.50 for up to about 200 pounds of recyclables. Regular customers can still bring in their trash and recycling at the same time, Jones said, and get a discount on their garbage rate if they recycle.

City officials expect a big initial response to the program, which will be in conjunction with the nonprofit group Ecomaine.

“I’m anticipating the first couple of weeks will be pretty busy. Some people have been waiting for this for a long time,” said Lesley Jones, the city’s public works director. “I’ve heard some people have been saving up bags of stuff waiting for this.”

The city now accepts recyclables, including newspapers, magazines, steel cans, corrugated cardboard, clear glass containers and No. 2 clear plastic such as milk jugs, in its curb-side program. It doesn’t take non-corrugated cardboard such as cereal boxes or white milk jugs or other types of plastic.

Ecomaine, a nonprofit recycling and waste-to-energy firm in Portland, accepts a much wider variety of recyclables, including plastics No. 1 through No. 7, most types of paper, clear or colored glass, cans, aluminum, cereal boxes, plastic grocery bags and wrapping paper.

“It’s a new program for Augusta, and single-sort accepts a much broader range of recyclables so we want to let people know all about this so they can get the most out of the new system,” said Frank Gallagher, communications director for Ecomaine. “We want to spread the word about what you can and cannot recycle and make it as easy as possible.”

While the once-a-month curbside program will continue, residents cannot participate in the single-sort program by leaving their recyclable items curbside.

On Friday, there will be presentations and information at the public works center. Ecomaine is also hosting several informational presentations in Augusta to explain to residents how the system will work and what can be recycled. The first meetings are 3-6 p.m. Tuesday at Augusta City Center.

“What is and isn’t recycling, that’s the biggest thing,” Gallagher said. “If we could just get people to understand what goes in the bin and what goes in the garbage, that’d be a tremendous victory.”

Gallagher said such presentations have been well-attended elsewhere, including one last year in Waterville that drew hundreds of people.

“A lot of people want to recycle and care about recycling,” Gallagher said. “If you provide an opportunity for people to learn about it and do it, they tend to take advantage of that. The bottom line is the more material you can recycle, the less material you have to throw away. And throwing away has a cost. To the extent we can help people in Augusta divert more from solid waste, everybody is better off.”

The first 25 residents at each of the upcoming Ecomaine presentations in Augusta will get a free Ecomaine recycling bin, though the bins are not required to participate. Residents can use whatever they want to carry their recyclables to the single-sort containers, which the city has contracted with Riverside Disposal, of Chelsea, to have hauled to Ecomaine’s Portland sorting center.

Jones said the city is encouraging residents to reuse a container they already have to carry their recyclables rather than buy a new one, which would have be manufactured.

City Manager William Bridgeo has said the six-month trial period will provide an opportunity to see how many residents use the program. If it’s popular and successful, the city could consider offering expanded recycling longer-term, he has said.

“We think the people of Augusta will love single-sort recycling,” Ecomaine Business Development Director Lissa Bittermann said in a news release. “With single-sort, people in Augusta will be able to recycle a much greater variety of materials much more easily.”

Ecomaine won’t charge the city to process the recylables. The cost to the city — which officials estimate will be about $17,000 for the six-month trial — will be for transporting the containers to Ecomaine.

About $10,000 of that $17,000 covers the cost of taking the recycling container from Hatch Hill to Ecomaine. The Hatch Hill container would be used by all users of the landfill, which takes waste and recyclables from several area communities, so the cost of hauling it won’t come directly from the city budget. Instead, it would come from the Hatch Hill budget, which is funded by all users of Hatch Hill.

Jones said the costs associated with the Hatch Hill container are expected to be higher because it will get more use than those at Augusta City Center and the Public Works Department. The estimated $7,000 cost to transport the other two containers would come from the city’s rubbish budget, Jones said.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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