AUGUSTA — City councilors on Thursday will discuss several new recycling and trash handling options, including weekly pay-as-you-throw trash collection paired with free single-stream recycling, a system adopted last year in Waterville.

The council also will consider creating a new local facility to collect and compact recyclables or eliminating curbside recycling pickup but adding more locations where unsorted recyclables can be dropped off.

Councilor Dale McCormick asked city officials and others to put forth options for handling trash and recyclables. The city could consider several options or stay with the current system of offering three single-stream recyclable drop-off sites and three-times-a-month curbside trash pickup combined with the currently limited and lightly used once-a-month curbside recyclables pickup.

City administrators met with officials in Waterville, where residents voted overwhelmingly in June to keep the pay-as-you-throw trash collection and single-stream recycling program it began last year, as well as officials of WasteZero, the Portland company that provides the pay-as-you-throw trash bags used in Waterville.

City councilors meet Thursday to discuss which, if any, of the new options they want the city to pursue with some changes possible in the next financial year, which starts in July 2016.

“This will be the first in-depth discussion on recycling at the council level,” City Manager William Bridgeo said. “We’ll see how the council wishes to proceed from here. There is time to consider changing or expanding our recycling program for next (fiscal) year.”

Larger changes, such as anything requiring a new facility to be built, could take longer, Bridgeo noted.

In August, the city agreed to a five-year contract with ecomaine to continue sending single-sort recyclables to be processed, at no charge, at ecomaine’s Portland processing center. Residents drop off items at the Hatch Hill landfill, the back parking lot at Augusta City Center and the John Charest Public Works Facility on North Street.

Partly because of that program’s popularity with residents, councilors have expressed interest in expanding the city’s program to collect more recyclables, which would put less trash into the city-run Hatch Hill landfill, likely extending its useful lifespan. Bridgeo said nothing in the city’s agreement with ecomaine should prevent the city from expanding or making other changes to its recycling program, as long as all unsorted recyclables collected by the city are brought to ecomaine for processing.

Since it started in early March, the single-sort drop-off program has collected 113 tons of recyclables. The city’s cost for the program is the cost of having the containers transported to ecomaine, a total of $9,800.

Options studied by Ralph St. Pierre, finance director and assistant city manager, and Lesley Jones, director of public works, included:

• Putting single-stream drop-off containers at more locations and eliminating curbside recycling and replacing it with weekly trash collection. Jones and St. Pierre, in a memo to Bridgeo, said participation in the city curbside recycling program, which accepts significantly fewer types of materials than the single-stream recycling program, is very low and has dropped from 16 tons a month to 10 tons a month or less since the single-stream program, which collects 14 tons per month, started.

• Converting the current curbside recycling program to single-stream, collecting once a month, using either city workers and equipment or contracting the work out.

• Implementing a pay-as-you-throw program, in which residents could throw away trash only in designated and labeled bags they’d buy locally, as a financial incentive to encourage recycling, which would be collected curbside, every other week. The revenue generated from the sale of trash bags would help offset some of the costs of adding bi-weekly single-stream recycling curbside;

• Implementing a dual-stream collection, requiring the purchase of pay-as-you-throw bags and free, see-through recycling bags, with the city collecting both at curbside weekly with the same truck. Materials would be brought to a local processing facility where trash and bags of recyclables would be separated from each other, with the trash disposed of at Hatch Hill and the recyclables compacted so more can be hauled in each trip to ecomaine.

The costs of those options haven’t yet been estimated.

Woodard and Curran, the city’s landfill engineering firm, estimates a study of the city’s solid waste and recyclables options and potential facilities needed could cost $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the level of detail. The city also could contract with Planning Decisions for about $6,000 to update a 2009 recycling study the Hallowell firm did for the city previously.

Woodard and Curran provided some rough estimates for the cost of some recycling-related infrastructure. Those included the cost of building a new recycling transfer station for as little as $250,000 for one compactor and a transportable recyclables container to more than $2.5 million for a larger site with multiple compactors and larger transfer trailers which would allow more materials to be hauled at once.

Making no changes to recycling could have its own, less direct cost, including the cost of expanding Hatch Hill landfill to extend its use beyond the estimated 15 years it has left now. Woodard and Curran officials estimated a 20-acre expansion to Hatch Hill could cost about $11 million.

Councilors plan to meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss recycling options in council chambers at Augusta City Center, where they are also scheduled to:

• discuss the Complete Streets Program and how aspects of it are, or could be, used in city streets projects;

• discuss a request from the school department to have CTV-7 televise a political candidates’ forum to be hosted by the Cony High School AP Government class Oct. 6;

• and hear a request for a memorial plaque in council chambers to honor the late Ingeborg Lapointe.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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