Jay and Livermore Falls are facing growing problems with the amount of trash that people are mixing with recyclables, resulting in increased costs for the communities.

Both communities have contracts for single-sort recyclables with ecomaine, a Portland-based nonprofit that provides waste-management and recycling services to more than 70 Maine communities.

Single-sort recycling allows residents and businesses to mix all recyclable items together instead of having to sort them into separate containers for collection.

Ecomaine has said it is being much more alert to how recyclables are arriving at its facility, and will be charging an extra $40 per ton for loads with more than 5 percent “contamination,” Jay Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said.

If there is greater than 10 percent contamination, the towns will be charged an additional $70.50 per ton, on top of the $15 per ton the town is currently paying, Livermore Falls Public Works Foreman Bill Nichols said.

“It’s a major concern,” he said.


Livermore Falls recently sent a load from the transfer station to ecomaine that had 9 percent contamination, increasing the cost of that load to $55 per ton, Nichols said.

Jay also pays $15 a ton to send recyclables to ecomaine. Jay pays $59.74 per ton to dispose of trash, while Livermore Falls pays $58.39 per ton.

Workers at the transfer stations in Jay and Livermore Falls are watching what is going into recycling containers and trying to pull out what should not be there.

“Our crew is diligent about trying to remove trash from the recycling stream at our facility,” LaFreniere said.

She said people must be vigilant about separating their trash and recyclables.

A Jay crew sorted the curbside recycling that was collected last week and discovered many items that did not belong in the recycling loads.


Some of the items that were incorrectly included with recyclables included paper towels, clothing, Styrofoam, soiled food items, used paper plates and wax-covered items, such as ice cream containers and pet food bags, LaFreniere said.

She asked that residents read ecomaine’s Recyclopedia App at www.ecomaine.org/recyclopedia to learn which items can and cannot be recycled.

If that load had gone to ecomaine without being sorted, the town of Jay probably would have been charged the $70 per ton penalty for contamination greater than 10 percent.

“That’s nearly $1,000 per load that we take down,” LaFreniere said.

The additional money is not in the budget, she said.

Jay budgets $4,500 in its budget for disposal of recyclables, while Livermore Falls budgets $3,000 for disposal and recycling of light bulbs as electronic waste.


The recycling market has experienced great volatility recently, and prices paid for mixed residential paper has hit historic lows, according to LaFreniere, who is urging people to make sure they handle their recyclables appropriately.

“The buyers of the mixed paper have also become much less tolerant of any contamination,” LaFreniere said. “Due to this, ecomaine is instituting new steps to try to eliminate some of this contamination and they are asking for the help of our citizens.

“All recycling materials, whether brought to the facility or put out at the curb, need to be loose. They cannot be in a plastic bag. Plastic bags are not recyclable and plug up the machinery at ecomaine.”

The only recyclable item that is supposed to go in clear plastic bags is shredded paper.

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Bill Nichols, foreman at the Livermore Falls Public Works Department, goes over new recycling information recently with Transfer Station attendant Reginald Tardif.  (Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal)

A Jay crew sorted through a load of recyclables picked up curbside last week and discovered many items that should not have been included. With the town facing more stringent rules and increased costs, the fee to dispose of this load would have been about $1,000. (Jay Public Works Department)

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