AUGUSTA — With the city’s six month test-drive of a single-sort recycling program about to conclude, City Manager William Bridgeo recommends the city continue the program by inking an agreement with ecomaine to keep accepting the city’s unsorted recyclables at no charge for the next three years.

City councilors meet Thursday to discuss whether to commit to another three years of offering residents single sort recycling via recycling bins at the Hatch Hill landfill, Augusta Public Works’ North Street site, and the back parking lot at Augusta City Center.

Bridgeo said extending the ecomaine deal wouldn’t prevent the city from contemplating and making changes to its overall recycling program.

“Given the popularity of the (recycling bins) these past five months, I recommend we extend our contract with ecomaine for the coming three years,” Bridgeo said in a memo to councilors.

Updated data on the public’s use of the program was not immediately available from city officials Tuesday.

However, after its first month, city officials said usage was exceeding their expectations. Public Works Director Lesley Jones said in April that the city was sending about 2 tons of recyclables per week to ecomaine, and she had expected to send only about 1 ton a week.

In single-sort — also known as single-stream — recycling, users don’t have to sort various types of recyclable materials from each other, thus mixing newspaper, glass and paper in one container, which they take to a recycling bin and dump all those items into it together. Users still have to sort their recyclables from their nonrecyclable trash.

Ecomaine, under both the current pilot program and the proposed longer-term agreement, doesn’t charge the city to take single-sort recyclables dropped off in the three bins. However, the city is responsible for transporting the recyclables when the bins are full to ecomaine’s processing center in Portland. The city, under a contract with Riverside Disposal, of Chelsea, pays about $200 per trip to have each container of recyclables taken to ecomaine.

Ecomaine is a nonprofit recycling and waste-to-energy firm owned by several southern Maine municipalities.

The city still collects some recyclable items curbside as part of its previous rubbish and recyclables collection system, but the new single-sort program, which accepts many more types of materials than the older curbside program, is drop-off only. Residents have to take their single-sort recycling to one of the three drop-off locations.

City councilors are scheduled to discuss whether to renew the single-sort recycling agreement with ecomaine at their meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Councilors are also scheduled to:

• discuss a proposed new Historic District Ordinance;

• discuss a grant for police coverage at the state-owned, city-run Augusta State Airport; and

• discuss a proposed new vacant property ordinance.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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