CLINTON — In response to residents who want “real” recycling, Town Manager Earla Haggerty organized a special meeting on Monday evening to discuss the future of recycling for the town.

After hearing several concerns from residents, Haggerty decided to research ways to make the town’s recycling system more efficient and effective.

“I’ve spoken with several residents who want real recycling,” Haggerty said.

Currently, Clinton and its partner town Benton send their tonnage to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Center (PERC) in Orrington, which is a waste-to-energy business that takes trash and turns it into energy through burning it.

According to Haggerty, this practice of burning recyclables has certain residents wanting to pursue alternative solutions.

Haggerty said that her research has been small scale so far, but she’s looked into several possibilities for Clinton’s recycling system, the main option being a contract with Waste Management.

“I had a meeting with Peter Lachapelle from Waste Management and we talked about real recycling,” Haggerty said. “So the plan would be instead of having Bolsters take it to PERC, we’d have it transported to the facility in Norridgewock. Then Waste Management would take it to ecomaine in Portland. … it would cost 33% more a ton … so instead of being $110 a ton it’d be $144 a ton.”

Haggerty emphasized that the prices she’s researched so far are approximate, are subject to change and that a concrete decision is far from being made, but that it’s still important to consider the possibilities.

“It’s time for us to really drill down and look at what we want to do as a community,” Haggerty said. “Going with Waste Management would change the costs from $26,000 a year to $34,000 a year. Why isn’t that doable if both communities are wanting to really recycle?”

Haggerty also mentioned that she’s researched Fiberight and its plant in Hampden, which has experienced multiple delays in getting its system operating fully,  but said she’d have to gain a deeper understanding of the organization’s operation before considering it further.

The last aspect of Clinton’s recycling system that Haggerty discussed was about making changes to the current Solid Waste and Transfer Station that the town shares with Benton.

According to Haggerty, adding a “gift shop” or recycling exchange store to the current facility could be a positive addition to the community.

“A ton of towns now have gift shops at the transfer stations,” Haggerty said. “You bring something and you take something … dishes, knick-knacks, books. … I know whenever I’m done with something and my daughter doesn’t want it, I take it to Goodwill. A gift shop would reduce the tonnage of things we don’t want in our waste stream and it would make things more interesting.”

Near the end of Monday’s gathering, Haggerty reiterated why she wanted to call a meeting in the first place.

“What I wanted to come out of this conversation was to see if there were any more ideas,” Haggerty said. “I like community participation in developing these new things like recycling alternatives. …We want it (recycling) to be embraced so we can get a sense that we’re doing what the community wants.”

Haggerty said that she and officials from Benton have discussed holding a combined meeting regarding recycling.


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