WATERVILLE — Starting July 10, residents can expect to see public works employees using a city truck to collect recyclables at the curb since the company that has been doing it the last three years ended its contract and decided not to continue.
Sullivan’s Waste Disposal, of Thorndike, collected recycling for $72,000 a year. The city sought bids from other companies to do the job, but the two that responded wanted more than $200,000 annually.
The City Council, at the recommendation of the city’s solid waste and recycling committee, decided the city should take over recycling, hire another public works employee, buy a new packer truck that can take both recyclables and trash, and ultimately do both collections.
Public Works Director Mark Turner said that buying the truck, estimated to cost about $200,000, would involve the City Council’s including it in the municipal budget, which has not yet been approved because the city does not know yet how much money the city will receive from the state for education.
In the meantime, public works will continue to pick up trash at the curb weekly with the truck it uses now and use its 1999 spare packer truck to collect single-sort recyclables biweekly. Sullivan’s also picked up recyclables every other week.
By starting recycling pickup the week of July 10 as opposed to July 1, Turner was able to devise a schedule whereby only two holidays, Labor Day and Christmas, would be affected during the next six months.
In other words, in the past when a holiday fell on a Monday, recycling would be picked up on Tuesday, but the city will not be able to do that. However, it will pick up trash on Tuesday if the holiday falls on Monday.
“Because we only have one truck to do recycling, we can not do double holiday collections,” Turner said. “I’m trying to avoid as many holidays as possible, so I staggered the first week so we’ll have only three holidays that will be affected.”
City Manager Michael Roy said Thursday that he is optimistic that the new system will work well.
“I think it’s clear to many of us in city government that curbside recycling has been an important part of our whole solid waste picture,” Roy said. “I think people have come to support the recycling initiative, so I think it’s important.”
He said that when the city instituted the pay-as-you-throw system of trash collection three summers ago, it was the prime mover in reducing the city’s trash flow 54 percent.