June 19, 2018
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Here’s what Bangor residents need to know about next month’s switch to zero-sort recycling

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Bangor makes the switch to zero-sort recycling on July 7, meaning residents will be able to dispose of more than 20 types of materials, instead of the five types now collected.

Here’s what you need to know:

Curbside collection will happen every other week, rather than every week, starting the week of July 7. Collection days will remain the same, according to Dana Wardwell, Bangor’s director of public works. Curbside trash pickup will not be affected by the switch.

Acceptable recyclables include cardboard, magazine and newsprint, paper, plastic containers type 1-7, glass bottles and containers of any type or color, aluminum cans, aerosol containers, pie plates, trays, foil, tin cans and other types of metal containers.

The zero-sort rule of thumb for plastics is that anything that bends or flexes — from milk containers to kiddie pools — can be recycled curbside, said Jim Dunning, assistant manager for Casella Waste Systems.

“The overall goal for us is to make recycling easier for people,” Dunning said.

Zero-sort won’t take plastic bags, window glass, mirrors, light bulbs, dishes, pyrex, ceramics, paper towels, facial tissue, styrofoam, recyclables containing food waste, paints, oils, hazardous material, needles, syringes, VCR tapes, CDs/DVDs, scrap metal, pots or pans.

Residents can continue to use their blue recycling bins. They also can use any covered container to hold their recyclables, but should label it using a Bangor recycling sticker picked up at the public works department, 530 Maine Ave. Clear plastic bags containing recyclables also may be left at the curb.

The city will continue to run a drop-off location on Maine Avenue, but the current facility will be closed. The service will move a few hundred yards down the road to the public works hub, with signs directing residents to the new spot.

More information about zero-sort recycling is available on the city’s website.

City officials approved the switch to a zero-sort recycling contract with Pine Tree Waste late last year. Privatizing recycling services is projected to save the city about $90,000 per year over the next five years, while increasing the types of materials residents are allowed to recycle.

Bangor, which now uses its own public works crews to collect, transport and sort recycling in the city, had been spending about $250,000 per year on its recycling service, according to Wardwell. The city will pay Pine Tree $111,500 plus fuel expenses in the first year. The full amount of the five-year contract is about $578,000.

Casella runs zero-sort for 50 communities across the state. Dunning said zero-sort gets more reusables out of the waste stream and cuts down on the amount of waste Casella sends to the incinerator.

Other communities in the area saw good results with their switches to single-stream recycling. Brewer residents quadrupled the amount of waste they recycled after the city switched in 2010. Orono made the switch in 2013 and quickly saw its recycling rate double. Old Town saw a 10-fold increase in its recycling volume.

Wardwell stressed that Bangor is not switching to a pay-per-bag trash system as part of this conversion.

Anyone who runs into problems with their recycling collection should contact Bangor Public Works at 992-4545.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter @nmccrea213

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