Cape council sets public hearing on pay-per-bag proposal

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council has scheduled a public hearing on Sept. 13 to give residents the chance to discuss a proposed pay-per-bag trash disposal system.

The council and the Recycling Committee continued their discussion of the plan in a workshop on Monday, Aug. 9.

The council reviewed handouts and comparisons of Cape’s recycling and solid waste data with 11 other ecomaine-member communities.

According to the synopsis compiled by Town Manager Mike McGovern, Cape recycles 34 percent more per capita than the mean of the other communities, but also on a per capita basis, the town has 43 percent more solid waste by weight than the mean of the other communities.

Councilors, members of the Recycling Committee and Public Works Director Bob Malley said the data is difficult to compare because communities have different trash disposal characteristics: some offer curbside pickup and private trash haulers, some have mandatory recycling rules, and there are different proportions of residential and commercial waste.

Councilor Penny Jordan, a member of the ecomaine board of directors, said it would be helpful for the public if the council set an incentive or goal to reach.

“Are we trying to increase recycling, or decrease solid waste,” she said. “What are we trying to achieve? Do we set a dollar amount to save, or reduce waste by a certain weight?”

She also encouraged councilors to think about renewing a compost education campaign to help further reduce household waste.

McGovern said more information will be provided before the Sept. 13 public hearing, and encouraged residents visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website for more information about  pay-per-bag programs. 

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or