Council continues recycling program while Aho find alternatives

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AUBURN — The city’s current curbside recycling collections will continue for another month, then could be replaced with monthly collections and drop-off bins.

Councilors voted 5-0 to continue the current recycling program until a temporary replacement can be put in place.

City Manager Glenn Aho also said the long-term plan is to negotiate a new solid waste contract, combining trash and recycling collections, hopefully boosting the recycling rate and saving the city money.

That long-term recycling program would start in July 2011. Councilors needed to decide how they would handle recycling in the meantime.

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Councilors voted last week to end the city’s current curbside recycling program, but didn’t discuss what to replace it with. On Tuesday, they reversed last week’s decision, giving Aho time to work out  short-term replacement.

According to Aho on Tuesday, the city could hire Casella subsidiary Pine Tree Waste to collect curbside recycling monthly, not weekly. The city would also set up a recycling bin at Mid-Maine Waste Action Corp.’s Goldthwaite Road facility. A second recycling drop-off would be set up at the Public Works facility on Gracelawn Road on Saturdays.

Aho said he needs time to work out the contract details with Pine Tree Waste.

Under the contract with Pine Tree, the city would pay to lease the equipment and for collection labor. The company would be responsible for all of the other costs.

Aho also cautioned against requiring residents to purchase special bags to have their trash collected. It could make Auburn’s recycling program too effective, he said.

“If we had a pay-per-bag program, I think we could end up with three times the recycling rate we have now,” he said. “But that could upset the balance at (Mid-Maine Waste Action Corporation) and end up costing us money in the long run.”

As owners of MMWAC , Auburn and other member cities get discounted trash dumping rates. That trash, and solid waste from other communities, is burned in the company’s incinerators to generate electricity. The company has a contract with Central Maine Power to provide a certain amount of electricity annually.

MMWAC would be forced to purchase trash to use in the incinerators if the amount of solid waste from Auburn and other members went down too much, Aho said.

“So at this stage, I’m going to move forward studying a recycling program that does not include the paid bag option,” Aho said.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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