Refuse district seeks legislative action for mounting can accumulation

Officials want to rent same equipment redemption centers use
Tue, 09/17/2019 - 1:45pm

Boothbay Region Refuse Disposal District has implemented a can-do attitude in the mounting container recycling problem. For months, district officials have sought a solution to disposing of hundreds of redeemable plastic, glass and aluminum containers. But the bottles and cans are piling up, due to an inability to find a local redemption center. 

The transfer station has numerous bags filled with 350 cans stored. Each week, the district makes limited runs to Augusta and Topsham for disposal, but manager Steve Lewis said the station has about $2,500 in returnable containers and the problem worsens each day.

So he is looking at a legislative approach to combat the problem.  Lewis is proposing to rent equipment used by the state’s licensed redemption centers. According to Lewis, Maine Department of Environmental Protection licenses redemption centers, allowing them to use special machines designed for accepting plastic, aluminum and glass containers. Redemption centers rent these machines for $15,000 per year and receive 9 cents per container. 

By law, these machines are only available to redemption centers open to the public, but Lewis is seeking assistance from State Rep. Holly Stover. “We need to change the law in order to have these machines. I’m trying to set up a meeting with Holly,” Lewis told BRRDD trustees Sept. 12. This would alleviate the district’s problem of storing and transporting redeemable containers. 

The district has another recycling problem for which there is no legislative fix. The price for selling recyclable cardboard continues to drop. Eighteen months ago, the district received close to $140 per ton. Now it’s selling for $18 per ton. “It’s ridiculous,” Lewis said. “We used recycling revenues to offset operational costs, but now costs are up and revenues are down. So we’re not in as strong a financial situation as we once were.”

Lewis reported the district has changed propane dealers. The district changed from Downeast Energy who instituted a new $11.76 delivery fee in January. The new dealer is Colby & Gale, who offered a locked price of $1.99 per gallon. The district previously paid $3.69 per gallon to Downeast Energy. 

Giles Rubbish is also contracting with Colby & Gale for fuel oil. Giles previously used M.W. Sewall, who bid $2.44 per gallon. Instead, the district opted for the higher price. Colby & Gale bid $2.46 per gallon. “The consensus was to use Colby & Gale because they gave us such a good price on propane,” Lewis said. 

The district sold its old box truck for $900. The board also implemented winter hours. The new schedule begins Tuesday, Oct. 15 and runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The board meets next at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10.