WINSLOW — A town committee established to review the town’s trash and recycling system has been expanded, and officials hope to take a recommendation for changes to the system to the Town Council this autumn.

The committee’s top goal is to increase the amount of recycling by Winslow residents, which could involve implementing a single-stream program.

The goal is to increase recycling rates 5 percent to 25 percent, which could save the town around $40,800 a year in disposal costs, according to a report released by the committee earlier this month.

“We need to put a plan together that will allow us to do that in a cost-effective manner,” said Town Councilor Ken Fletcher, who is on the committee with Council Chairman Gerald Saint Amand, Councilor Ray Caron, Town Manager Michael Heavener and Public Works Director Paul Fongemie. The council voted April 13 to add three more residents — Wilma Lombardi, Tanya Verzoni and Simon West — to the committee.

The town now allows residents to recycle at two bins stationed at the Winslow Public Library, on Halifax Street. Residents can deposit paper, cardboard and plastic materials at the site, but not glass or aluminum.

Because of the restrictions, many residents wind up mixing glass and aluminum containers in with their regular home waste, Fletcher said. Some residents also find it inconvenient to take recycling material to the library and instead discard all of it in the regular trash, he added.

The problem is that those items are included in the 3,000 tons of waste Winslow pays to send to Penobscot Energy Recovery Co., a waste-to-energy incinerator in Orrington, but some of it can’t be processed by the facility, Fletcher added. The glass and metal that Winslow sends to the facility gets sorted out before the normal waste is burned and converted into energy, which is sold to power companies.

By boosting the amount the town recycles, Winslow should be able to reduce the amount of waste it sends to PERC, Fletcher said.

The committee is toying with the idea of rolling single-stream recycling into the town’s current curbside rubbish pickup. The proposal would make it easier for residents to separate their recycling from household rubbish, but it also could increase the cost to the town, Fletcher said. Winslow tried curbside recycling pickup more than a decade ago but abandoned the program because of cost concerns, he added.

The town’s proposed sanitation budget for next year is almost $493,000, according to council documents. The committee intends to solicit proposals from private companies for curbside trash and recycling pick up to see if it is less expensive.

While the goal is to improve the town’s rate of recycling, residents will have to be given an a reason to join in, said Caron, another committee member.

“The question is, what incentive do you give people to recycle?” Caron said.

One option would be to implement a pay-as-you-throw system like the one that was introduced in Waterville last year. Under Waterville’s arrangement, residents buy special trash bags for pickup by the city, which also collects recycling at the same time. The theory is that if people have to pay to have their trash picked up, they may be more diligent about sorting out recycling. Waterville voters will go to the polls June 9 in a referendum on whether to keep or repeal the pay-as-you-throw program.

Fletcher said the committee is considering pay-as-you-throw, but he has concerns about the system, including the fact that waste tends to get diverted when people are forced to pay for it. If Winslow did implement a program like Waterville’s, he said, he would expect a reduction in taxes to compensate for the added cost.

As they work out recommendations for Winslow’s solid waste system, committee members are keeping an eye on how the town is going to adjust when the 30-year agreement with PERC runs out in 2018.

When that happens, PERC no longer will be able to sell electricity at subsidized above-market rates, which will result in much higher tipping fees for communities that use the facility, according to the Municipal Review Committee. The committee represents more than 180 towns and cities that sent their waste to PERC. According to Caron, Winslow’s tipping rates could at least double after the PERC contract expires.

Instead of renewing contracts with PERC, the Review Committee is moving forward with a plan to build a facility in Hampden, with Fiberight, a Maryland-based company that designs plants that convert waste into biofuels.

As it moves forward, the Winslow committee intends to monitor the Municipal Review Committee’ progress. The group hopes to have recommendations ready for the Town Council to consider by September or October, but the public is encouraged to provide input and suggestions at any time during the process, Caron said.

“We want to get the community involved,” he said. “We really want citizens not to be surprised in the end.”

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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