Future of Oxford County Regional Recycling Corp. uncertain

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NORWAY — As two more towns prepare to leave the Oxford County Regional Recycling Corp. for single-stream recycling, the plant manager and board members wonder if the corporation will have to be dissolved.

“If enough (towns)  leave, it will be no longer cost effective to handle multisort the way it does,” Stephen Bies, chairman of the Oxford County Regional Recycling Corporation, said.

The board voted April 9 to authorize planning for single-stream recycling beginning Jan. 1, 2015, for its 17 member towns who want to participate.

Since that time, Bies said Livermore have begun single-sort recycling and the towns of Greenwood and Woodstock are set to begin Jan. 1. Bethel, Newry and Hanover are considering the move for next summer, but no commitment has been made yet.

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Single-sort recycling means all paper, plastics, metals and other recyclables are thrown into one collection truck. The recyclables would be shipped to a plant outside Oxford Hills. Multisort recyclables currently go to the corporation’s plant on land leased from the Norway-Paris Solid Waste Corp. on Brown Street in Norway.

Bies said the recycling corporation is doing half the business it used to, but he called it “largely a reflection of the economy.” He said revenues slipped in 2009 when volume and values dropped.

A more recent decision to share the plant manager with Norway-Paris Solid Waste Corp., which operates a recycling and solid waste plant on Brown Street, reduced the 2015 payroll budget considerably. Other cost-saving measures such as changes in transportation costs are also being considered or have already been implemented.

The lure of easy, single-sort recycling is catching on in some of the towns, and at some point, if enough leave the recycling corporation, the towns will have to decide what to do.

But Oxford County Regional Recycling Corp. plant manager Warren Sessions  said he is trying to convince the board that if the corporation is dissolved, Norway-Paris Solid Waste can still continue multisort recycling and turn a profit.

“I’m trying hard to convince them we can make money over there,” Sessions said.

If the corporation did dissolve, Norway-Paris Solid Waste could continue to function on the Brown Street property because they own the land.

Bies said there is considerable equity in the building and machinery that is owned by Oxford County Regional Recycling Corp. on the property.

“If a mutual decision was made they wanted to dissolve, the assets would be divided among the towns,” he said.

So far, the Norway Board of Selectmen has resisted going to single-stream recycling.

“I suppose that possibility exists down the road,” Norway Town Manager David Holt said. “For right now, it appears that Norway and Paris will continue to recycle the way we have for many years. Our citizens are used to it, supportive and good at it.”

Holt said a study commissioned a few years ago to look into single-stream recycling did not show a significant financial reason to change systems.

Sessions said the overwhelming feeling among local users he speaks to at the facility is that there is no need to change the system.

“It was clear from the beginning only a few (towns) were interested in getting into it right away,” Bies said.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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