Patty Duguay, the chairwoman of the Northern Oxford Regional Solid Waste board, and Eric Schmersal, the supervisor of the Mexico transfer station, stand by food-waste bins at the station this week.

MEXICO — Patty Duguay, chairwoman of the Northern Oxford Regional Solid Waste board, said the food waste collection program that began this past September has generated more than 3 tons of compost in three months.

The pilot program will run until December, and Duguay is hoping more people and businesses will take advantage of it.

The compost is collected by Agri-Cycle Energy at the Mexico transfer station every Friday and is converted into renewable energy, animal bedding and soil additives at its anaerobic digestion facility at Stonyvale Farm in Exeter.

Surry Seafood Co. of Dixfield takes its food waste to the transfer station for composting.

In January, the solid waste board began a three-month effort to encourage schools, nursing homes and Rumford Hospital to participate in the composting program. The $79 monthly charge paid by the board will include the weekly pickup of two 64-gallon roll carts.

As of early February, the Rumford Community Home decided to participate and Mountain Valley High School in Rumford may begin in March, Duguay said.

“We’re hoping to see that in three months’ time they’ll recognize the value of (the composting program),” she said.

By using the composting bins, businesses and organizations can cut costs in their normal trash pickup, she said. “The cost of a dumpster (for trash) is around $120 a month,” she said, compared to the $79 monthly charge.

“Whatever we remove from the waste stream saves taxpayer dollars, because right now it’s about $65 a ton to throw things away,” Duguay said. “So, we’re kind of breaking even now, but if we could bring (composting) up to say, 2 tons a month instead of a ton and a half or something, then we’re saving money and our taxpayers are, too.”

Eric Schmersal, the supervisor of the transfer station in Mexico, said roughly two 60-gallon containers of food waste are filled in a week at the station and he hopes they’ll go to three soon.

“What’s good with this (program) is if you’re a backyard composter you’ve got to keep meat and fat and dairy out of the compost, but in this case you don’t have to, Schmersal said. “If it’s edible it goes in there.”

And an easy way to store food waste such as bacon fat and meat is to put the waste in a plastic bag in the freezer until you are ready to drop it off at the transfer station, he said. “The freezer helps keep the smell down.”

Duguay said the solid waste board has agreed to continue the program until December.

“Right now we’re feeling things are working really well, pickup has been simplified and (Agri-Cycle) comes when they say they are going to,” she said. And because the containers have sturdy covers, they have not had problems with animals getting into them.

However, the transfer station has moved the food waste bins in front of the building and away from the other recycling bins “because some people were taking their plastic bags or paper bags and dumping them (into the composting bins).”

The composting program is intended to remove food scraps, soiled paper and plant clippings from the waste stream. Also, vegetables, fruit, dairy, meat, fish, bones, lobster and clam shells, bread, rice, pasta, coffee grounds, egg shells, napkins and paper products can be deposited in the food bins.

Items not accepted are ashes, cardboard, cans, bottles, wires, newspapers, Styrofoam coffee cups, animal waste and yard debris.

“The individual at home who wants to cut down on their carbon footprint and trash can start doing this and when (they’re at the transfer station) it takes five minutes to drop it off,” Schmersal said.

Mexico transfer station hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Towns that are a part of Northern Oxford Regional Solid Waste are Byron, Dixfield, Mexico, Peru, Roxbury and Rumford. 

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