Lack of support may lead to change at Cape Elizabeth bottle shed

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The bottle shed at the Recycling Center may be restructured so a third-party vendor, rather than community groups, will sort bottles.

Town Manager Michael McGovern on Nov. 6 outlined a proposal to the Town Council for a vendor to sort bottles off-site. A committee would be formed to distribute the proceeds to youth groups in town.

“The bottle shed is something that a lot of people in town appreciate, but in recent years, particularly among the booster groups at the schools, they’ve moved on,” McGovern said. “… A lot of them are participating in the CLYNK program.”

CLYNK is a South Portland-based “bottle redemption system” that allows users to establish accounts and collect credit for their recyclables. Money in the accounts can be used to purchase groceries at Hannaford, or donated to charitable organizations that register with CLYNK.

The bottle shed was built in 1992. Bottles and can left there are sorted on a monthly, rotating basis by organizations that benefit local youth groups. McGovern said it has been difficult lately to find volunteers to do the work, even after opening it up to all nonprofits, not just those that work with children.

Under McGovern’s new proposal, a vendor would sort the bottles. According to the town website, “the current vendor, Madden Beverage, would mechanically sort the returnables without the 10 percent handling fee it now charges.”

Robert Malley, director of Public Works, said redesigning the bottle shed could bring in as much as $30,000 a year, according to the website. The bottle shed generated just over $23,000 in 2013, and $17,000 in the first nine months of this year.

Max Rae, a member of the Cape Elizabeth Lions Club, told councilors how much his group values the bottle shed. He said it raises a lot of the club’s funds for youth programs.

“We really depend on that bottle shed every year to raise money, especially this year where we lost Family Fun Day (due to rain),” Rae said. “We didn’t have any source really, except the bottle shed.”

McGovern said he appreciates the work the Lions Club does at the bottle shed, but that they shouldn’t be expected to do it all themselves.

“They have been great to work with, but obviously they couldn’t sustain it all 12 months,” he said.

McGovern wants councilors to appoint a three-person committee that would determine the beneficiary of the bottle shed each month. The committee would be responsible for announcing the beneficiary far enough in advance so that residents would know ahead of time who their bottles would be benefiting.

McGovern said he also wants the committee to recognize the work the Lions Club has done.

“I’m hoping that whoever this council appoints to this committee will recognize the Lions Club’s long-term traditional support of so many youth programs in Cape Elizabeth,” he said.

The proposal will go before the council again on Dec. 8 for more discussion and a vote. Before he left office, former Councilor David Sherman said he hopes the council approves McGovern’s proposal.

“If the council in the coming year can accomplish something along these lines, it would be the best thing the council has done in a long time,” Sherman said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Sidebar Elements

Cape Elizabeth is considering hiring a vendor to sort recyclable cans and bottles because fewer community groups are showing interest in running the bottle shed at the town’s Recycling Center.

Inside the Cape Elizabeth bottle shed, which will be overseen by a committee if the Town Council accepts a proposal from Town Manager Michael McGovern.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.