ORONO, Maine — Residents in Orono will no longer have to sort their recyclables.
The Orono Town Council approved zero-sort recycling on June 10, which means more items are able to be recycled and residents don’t have to sort.
“The town benefits in two ways,” said Rob Yerxa, Orono Public Works director. “It’s more convenient and user friendly, so we hope to boost recycling participation.”
It also should reduce the amount of trash picked up in town, he said.
“For every ton [of trash] that we bring in, we have to pay a tipping fee to [Penobscot Energy Recovery Company],” he said. “It averages about $78 a ton.”
It also helps the environment, he said.
Aside from not having to sort anymore, residents can now recycle more items.
“Plastics is a big one. Before, only No. 1 and 2 plastics were acceptable, now plastics No. 1 through 7 is collectible,” said Yerxa.
Residents will soon be able to get a sticker from the town office to label their containers as recyclable, but that’s not necessary, he said.
“As long as it’s clear that it’s not trash, it will be picked up,” Yerxa said. “Residents can also put their recyclables in clear trash bags.”
Recycling will be picked up every other week during regular trash pickup days on Thursdays and Fridays.
The transition is already starting and residents can begin zero-sort recycling now. It is expected to be fully implemented by July 1, according to the town’s website.
“Even if people still put out sorted recycling, it will still get picked up,” Yerxa said. “This is a less stringent practice than before. We hope people start practicing this as soon as possible. It should be a relatively smooth transition.
Pine Tree Waste is contracted for the recycling.
Neighboring towns have implemented zero-sort recycling and soon after started a pay-as-you-throw trash program. Yerxa said that’s not in the plans for Orono.
“At this point, that’s not in the cards,” he said. “We haven’t proposed anything at this point like that. But that is a method you see quite often to boost [recycling] participation further. We hope we can reap the benefits [without using pay-as-you-throw].”
Items accepted under the zero-sort policy include cartons, metal cans and lids, plastics No. 1-7, phone books, newspapers, magazines, corrugated cardboard, paper bags, greeting cards, junk mail, paperboard boxes, glass bottles and jars, file folders, office paper, paper towel rolls and paperback books.
Items not accepted include scrap metal, plastic bags, plastic six-pack holders, needles or syringes, window panes, mirrors, ceramics, stickers or address label sheet waste, waxed paper or cardboard, styrofoam, paper to-go containers, organic material, food waste and electronic waste.
Advertising and mailers will be sent to Orono residents next week, said Yerxa. For more information, visit Orono’s website.