City Councilors are scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to authorize City Manager William Bridgeo to sign a five-year contract with ecomaine to continue the city’s single-sort recycling program.

A six-month trial of single-sort recycling expires this month, and Bridgeo has recommended extending the program.

Councilors expressed support for extending the program last week and continuing to send the city’s unsorted recyclables to ecomaine for processing at no charge for the next five years.

“I’m for extending the program,” said Ward 4 Councilor Anna Blodgett. “I think it is a wonderful program.”

If the city doesn’t agree to extend the deal, its agreement with ecomaine specifies the city could not do single-sort recycling with any other entity for a year. The city’s options for extending with ecomaine include a no-charge, five-year option in which the city’s only expenses are the cost of transporting recyclables to ecomaine’s Portland processing center; or a three-to-five-year revenue sharing agreement in which the city would share in the costs, or potential revenue, from selling the recyclable materials sent to ecomaine.

In that revenue sharing program, participants can share in revenue when recyclable commodity prices are high, but they also share in expenses when prices are too low to cover expenses.

Ralph St. Pierre, finance director and assistant city manager, said over the last eight years the revenue-sharing model has produced negative returns, thus costing municipalities money. As a result, his and Bridgeo’s recommendation was to stay with the no-cost program for the next five years.

The city’s program cost is for hiring a contractor to transport the three large recycling bins, kept at Augusta City Center, Public Works Department off North Street, and Hatch Hill landfill, to ecomaine in Portland.

Under a contract with Riverside Disposal, of Chelsea, the city pays about $200 per trip to have each container of recyclables taken to ecomaine.

St. Pierre said at the current rate of recycling, hauling single-sort recyclables to ecomaine will cost about $18,000 a year.

Since the program started on March 6, Augusta has sent 68.03 tons of single-sort recyclables to ecomaine, as of a delivery on July 31, according to Lissa Bitterman, business development manager for ecomaine.

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 those items into it together. Users still have to sort their recyclables from their nonrecyclable trash.

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.

The city, before the addition of the single-sort program, already accepted newspapers, magazines, steel cans, clear glass containers and No. 2 clear plastic such as milk jugs in its curbside pickup program. The curbside program doesn’t pick up noncorrugated cardboard such as cereal boxes, or white milk jugs or other types of plastic.

The single-sort’s wider variety of acceptable materials includes plastics Nos. 1 through 7, most types of paper, clear or colored glass, cans, aluminum, cardboard, cereal boxes, plastic grocery bags and wrapping paper. It doesn’t accept Styrofoam or plastic trash bags.

Bridgeo said extending the ecomaine deal wouldn’t prevent the city from contemplating and making changes to its overall recycling program. He said the councilors will discuss the larger question of future city recycling options this fall.

Councilors on Thursday also are scheduled to:

• Hear an update on Augusta schools from Kimberly Martin, chairwoman of the Board of Education;

• Hold a public hearing and consider granting a liquor license to Amazing Garden, a proposed new restaurant at 57 Western Ave.;

• Vote on altering the zoning of a parcel of land adjacent to Performance Foodservice — Northcenter, off Dalton Road to allow parking as an allowed use there; and

• Vote on a zoning change to allow social services in the Planned Development 2 District.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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