MEXICO — The transfer station is collecting food waste for the next three to six months in a trial program aimed at reducing the local carbon footprint.

The Northern Oxford Regional Solid Waste board approved contracting with Agri-Cycle Energy of Exeter for the transfer station to serve as a collection stop. The board will pay $78 per month for a weekly pickup of a pair of 64-gallon roll carts.

The trial program is intended to remove food scraps, soiled paper and plant clippings, which take up nearly one-third of an average trash container.

Patty Duguay, director of the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition, said, “I think it’s real exciting. I’m really hoping, especially the people that come here to recycle, that they’ll bring their waste. And it’s easy. They can just collect it in their home in a plastic bag, tie it up and drop it in. They don’t have to take it out of the bag.”

She said this can be anything organic, including vegetables, fruit, dairy, meat, fish, bones, lobster and clam shells. Also, bread, rice, pasta, coffee grounds, egg shells, napkins and paper products.

Not included are ashes, cardboard, cans, bottles, wires, newspapers, Styrofoam coffee cups, animal waste and yard debris.

Eric Schmersal, manager of the transfer station, said the program began Aug. 31.

“This is something that’s going to be very important,” he said. “The next 10 years, they’re worried about landfill space in the state of Maine. They want to push this composting on a lot of folks.”

Schmersal said, “Just think if you could eliminate food waste in your trash how much you would save in your trash? If you do that, say eliminating 25 pounds a week out of that trash bag, it will all add up.”

The food waste will be converted into renewable energy, animal bedding and soil additives at the Exeter Agri-Energy anaerobic digestion facility at Stonyvale Farm in Exeter.

Duguay said she will contact businesses, schools and the hospital to join the program.

The towns of Byron, Dixfield, Mexico, Peru, Roxbury and Rumford are part of Northern Oxford Regional Solid Waste.

Duguay said, “We have it. The main thing now is for people to use it. As an individual, you’re empowered to make a difference.”

The collection carts are next to the recycling bins. Transfer station hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

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