August 18, 2019

Enfield, Howland discuss trash options

HOWLAND — Howland and Enfield officials agreed to explore future joint ventures in trash disposal that could save taxpayers money in both towns.

Getting rid of trash is one of both towns’ largest expenses.

Enfield estimates it will spend $82,000 in fiscal 1996 to get rid of trash. The town pays a private contractor for curbside pickup and trucking the trash to PERC. Also, the town operates its own transfer station and runs its own curbside pickup of recycled items.

Enfield’s recycled items are taken to the transfer station where they are sorted and then taken to Howland’s Recycle Center free of charge. Individual residents also bring recycled items to Howland’s recycle facility.

Howland will spend about $60,000 this year to get rid of trash. The town pays a private contractor for curbside pickup and trucking the trash to PERC. The contractor also operates the privately owned transfer station, which is staffed by one part-time paid employee and several volunteers. Revenue from the sale of recycled items is used to reduce costs of operating the center.

One of the ways Howland has been able to reduce its trash disposal costs is by recycling more and sending less trash to PERC. The town has placed a strong emphasis on recycling, which is evident by state environmental awards it has received. In 1995, the town’s recycle rate rose from 34 percent to 61 percent.

Howland’s 2-year-old pay-per-bag trash program has provided residents with a strong incentive to recycle. By recycling more, they need to buy fewer trash bags. Revenue from the 35-cent and 50-cent bag charges is used to help reduce trash disposal costs. Officials estimate the bag program has reduced trash disposal costs by more than $20,000.

During a joint meeting Monday, Enfield selectmen said they were exploring other recycling options in an effort to reduce the overall costs of trash disposal, which could mean the town will no longer use Howland’s recycle facility.

Citing their success, Howland officials suggested Enfield consider a pay-per-bag trash program to help reduce waste disposal costs. Enfield officials said residents were opposed to it.

In 1995, a total of 367.78 tons of trash was processed at the Howland Recycle Center. Howland recycled 303.61 tons of trash and Enfield recycled 64.17 tons, or nearly 20 percent of the total.

Enfield officials asked Howland selectmen if they were willing to give Enfield a 20 percent share of revenue received from the sale of recycled items. Howland officials indicated the request was reasonable as long as Enfield was willing to pay 20 percent of the center’s operational costs. Even when the markets for recycled items peaked in past years, Howland officials said the town had not made a profit.

Enfield officials said the town spent about $12,000 a year for recycling. Town Manager Scott Talcove said one option under consideration could cost about $2,000 a year, saving the town about $10,000. Talcove declined to discuss the option. The manager and Enfield selectmen said they did not want Howland officials to think they were bad neighbors should Enfield no longer use Howland’s recycle center.

Howland officials said there would be no hard feelings and said they did not blame Enfield for wanting to save money.

Selectmen from both towns agreed to meet in the future to discuss possible joint ventures, such as trash disposal when both private contracts expire.

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