SIDNEY — Starting Friday, residents no longer will have to sort items for recycling when they take them to the transfer station.

Selectmen last month approved a contract with Pine Tree Waste/Casella Waste Systems to provide single-stream, also called no-sort, recycling services for the town.

In July, Central Maine Recycling LLC, the Vassalboro company the town used for recycling, informed officials that it was closing its doors for good at the end of September. Plummeting prices for recyclable materials led the business owners to close up shop, said Sheila Thorne, the town’s administrative assistant.

“The commodities dropped so much they were losing their shirt,” she said. The company pulled its bins out of the transfer station Wednesday.

In August, selectmen received bids from three recycling companies — ecomaine, Waste Management and Pine Tree Waste/Casella Waste Systems. All three bids were for single-stream recycling.

Under the previous system, residents had to separate the recyclable materials — paper, cardboard, plastic and metal — into separate bins at the station.

The single-stream system requires residents to deposit their unsorted recyclables into one large container that Casella hauls away when it gets full.

Casella’s bid was the lowest of the three, especially in transportation fees, but it still increases the town’s recycling cost, Thorne said. Under the four-year contract the town signed with Central Maine Recycling in 2014, the company charged a flat rate of $8,900 a year for recycling services.

Casella, on the other hand, will charge the town a $150 transportation fee for each trip, as well as $50 per ton of recycling, and that rate could fluctuate based on commodity prices. The town also has to pay $100 a month to rent a container from the company.

Thorne estimated recycling could cost $14,000 a year under the Casella contract.

The town might be able to bring costs down a little if people recycle more under the new system.

“We’re hoping maybe we’ll get twice as much recycling and we can cut down the costs of municipal solid waste,” Thorne said, but added the town doesn’t have an estimate of how much it could save. Other municipalities, including Clinton, Benton and Waterville, report considerable savings in solid waste costs after switching to single-stream recycling.

The town uses revenue from the $1.25 it charges residents per 30-gallon trash bag to pay for household trash removal. However, it charges them nothing to dispose of material to be recycled. Thorne estimated the town spends about $53,000 a year on solid waste disposal. As a comparison, she estimated the town recycled about 121 tons a year, while it had almost 54 tons of solid waste just in the month of August.

The single-stream system also will allow residents to recycle materials they couldn’t before, such as glass and some plastics.

Thorne said she hasn’t received much feedback from residents yet, but the town is getting new transfer station pamphlets and information ready for the switchover.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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