Cape Elizabeth residents to talk (pay-per-bag) trash

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council will take public comment on a proposed pay-per-bag trash disposal system at its meeting on Monday, Sept. 13.

It currently costs the town about $500,000 a year to handle trash tossed into the hopper at the Recycling Center on Spurwink Avenue for processing at ecomaine in Portland. The expense has been included in property taxes; the pay-per-bag option would transfer some of the cost to user fees.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says communities with pay-per-bag systems have reported reductions in waste amounts ranging from 25 percent to 35 percent, on average. Recycling tends to increase significantly, too.

Councilors discussed the proposal with the Recycling Committee in July. While the committee endorsed the concept, members noted there would be significant challenges, including site configuration, lack of a gate house and adding personnel at the Recycling Center.

They recommended councilors develop a plan for the waste disposal proposal, offer educational outreach, allow citizens to voice their opinions and allow time for feedback.

The council met again on Aug. 9 to discuss the proposal and decided to hear public feedback before making a decision. Monday’s meeting offers that opportunity.

Town Manager Mike McGovern sent a memo to the council on July 26 comparing recycling and solid waste data from ecomaine. Since fiscal year 2007, Cape Elizabeth has had the largest percentage increase in recycling and the largest percentage decrease in solid waste among 11 ecomaine communities, he said. On a per capita basis, the town recycles 34 percent more than the mean of the 11 communities, but still produces 43 percent more solid waste than the mean.

McGovern’s memo said that assuming the cost of hauling recyclables is $40 a ton, and solid waste hauling and fees cost $180 a ton, Cape Elizabeth has reduced solid waste costs on an annual basis by $179,000 and has increased recycling costs by $16,000, for a savings of $163,000 since 2006-2007.

In other business, the council on Monday is expected to:

• Discuss a liquor license renewal for Rudy’s of the Cape.

• Hold a public hearing on Tree Ordinance amendments.

• Discuss approval of a Property Assessed Clean Energy Ordinance and refer the draft ordinance to the Ordinance Committee.

• Discuss the implementation of the 2007 Comprehensive Plan.

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