Recycling advocates push for environmental, cost savings

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MEXICO — Maine appears to be doing better in recycling waste than the national average, but some advocates are still frustrated with the state’s progress.

“It’s hard to get people to do it,” said Patty Duguay, chairwoman of the Northern Oxford Regional Solid Waste Board, which serves Roxbury, Byron, Rumford, Mexico, Peru and Dixfield.

The board’s fees have remained unchanged for nine years, because of revenue from recycling, Duguay said.

“Recycling pays for itself. Any revenues from recycling go back into the taxpayers pockets,” she said.

Even with all the pros, Duguay said the recycling rate for the six towns is only about 10 percent.

“It should be closer to 60 percent,” she said. “Everyone should have a recycling bin out on collection day.”

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For some, such as residents of Gilead, recycling isn’t an option now.

When the Oxford County Regional Recycling Corp. disbanded in June because towns moved to single-stream recycling, Gilead and others the corporation served needed to find options.

Bethel, Hanover and Newry went with Casella Pine Tree Waste.

Gilead Selectman Alfred Leighton said it hasn’t been easy finding a replacement.

“Nobody wants to deal with the small rural towns,” he said.

Gilead’s population in 2010 was 210.

Archie’s Inc. in Mexico gave the town a quote, which would cost Gilead less than $2,000 per year to recycle.

Leighton said he and the other selectmen will most likely wait until the annual town meeting in March for voters to decide.

“I just wish we had some more figures to compare it to,” he said.

Leighton said he has not been able to reach Casella Pine Tree Waste for a quote. 

Joseph Fusco of Casella Pine Tree Waste said recently that no one from Gilead has contacted them.

“The folks in our shop who would be in a position to know, and who responded to my inquiry, have told me that they have not been contacted by anyone from the town regarding waste and/or recycling services,” Fusco said.

Meanwhile, selectmen have appointed a Transfer Station Informational Committee chaired by Carol Poirier. Her mission is to research the town’s options and get residents passionate about recycling.

“My basement is full of recyclables, all sorted and ready to go,” Poirier said. “People’s attitudes about recycling makes me really sad. It’s a huge problem no matter where you live. People just aren’t aware of the landfills and what goes into them,” she said.

Duguay said recycling is certainly worth it, for the future and for the wallets of taxpayers.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that everything we take out of the waste stream saves money,” Duguay said. “This is one way where an individual can make a difference in the world.”

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Employees sort waste at the Casella facility in Lewiston. (Sun Journal file photo)

Bales of recyclables are stacked at the Northern Oxford Regional Transfer Station in Mexico. (Sun Journal file photo)

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