April 07, 2020
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Soaring costs push Maine town to end curbside recycling program

Rich Pedroncelli | AP
Rich Pedroncelli | AP

Skyrocketing costs for recycling have prompted the town of Gouldsboro to pull the plug on its curbside pickup program, according to a town official.

As of Sept. 1, residents who want to get rid of plastic, cardboard, paper and other recyclable materials will have to put it in with their regular household trash.

Since China adopted restrictions on importing recycling materials, the market for it has shrunk considerably, making it hard to find buyers, according to Sherri Cox, the town manager. Casella Waste Systems, which has been accepting recycling picked up from Gouldbsoro residents by a private contractor, will not offer recycling contracts for a set price because of the volatility of the recycling market, she said.

Since last November, the price charged to the town for recycling has gone from $45 per ton to $140 per ton, and that it is expected to keep increasing, Cox said.

“I was told it could go up over $200 by the end of the year,” Cox said. “We’ve only budgeted $80 per ton [for recycling through June 2019].”

To help ease the pain of ending the recycling program, which is expected to produce more trash to be hauled away as solid waste, the town is lowering the cost of its trash stickers from $1.50 apiece to $1.25, according to Cox.

In the meantime, the town is considering whether to place a large bin for a burnables at the local transfer station, she said, and individual residents can contact Coastal Recycling in the town of Hancock about possibly taking their recycling there. Attempts Tuesday to contact Coastal Recycling were unsuccessful.

Gouldsboro might reinstate its pickup program if prices come back down, she added.

“It’s a bummer,” Cox said of canceling the town-funded program. “Without being able to budget for the cost, it’s impossible to do.”

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Correction: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect amount for how much the town has budgeted for recycling expenses this year. It is $80 per ton. This story has also been edited to clarify that a private contractor has been hauling the recycling to Casella, rather than Casella picking it up directly

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