Portland may reinvent bulky waste pick-up, test larger recycling bins

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PORTLAND — The city is considering creating a call-in service for hauling unwanted couches, mattresses and other bulky waste from residences.

The Solid Waste Task Force is also expected to forward a recommendation to the City Council to implement a pilot program that would place 96-gallon recycling carts at homes in the West End and Capisic Street neighborhoods.

“We eliminated the bulky waste program a few years ago,” said Councilor John Anton, chairman of the task force. “There was a growing awareness of the need to have a bulky waste program of some sort.”

Environmental Programs and Open Space Manager Troy Moon said the proposal before the task force is modeled after a program in Portsmouth, N.H., where residents call the city to schedule appointments for pick-up of qualifying heavy trash items.

“We were looking for a program with parameters,” Moon said, that would eliminate mass sidewalk dumping and also prevent people from outside Portland from bringing their unwanted items into the city. He said that happened frequently when the city had regularly scheduled large-time pick-ups.

Moon said that while the city gave residential property owners “e-cards” good for free dumping at the Riverside Recycling Facility, renters have had to haul and pay fees to dump large items at Riverside.

“This way, we can talk with the resident and hopefully pick up the item at the next scheduled trash day for that area,” Moon said.

The city already owns a truck equipped with a crane, and would charge $5 for each item, he said.

Also before the Solid Waste Task Force is a proposal to distribute 96-gallon recycling carts to some residents in an effort to increase recycling and reduce litter.

The program would be piloted in the Capisic Street neighborhood and in the West End.

The carts, which are used in several surrounding communities including South Portland and Scarborough, would be distributed to residences. At apartment buildings, one cart would be required for every three units.

Moon said the carts allow people to recycle more because they have more room. They would also reduce the number of open bins at the curb, which could in turn reduce litter.

The city already uses the large carts at city and school buildings, and its trucks are equipped with arms to lift the carts and empty them.

“We are especially interested to see how it works on the peninsula, and in the winter,” Moon said.

Anton said the West End was chosen because Pine Street is viewed as one of the most challenging routes for pick-up.

An educational component could involve delivering information packets with the carts, and also working with the press and environmental groups to get the word out, Moon said.

Storage of the carts by residents and where the carts would be placed on streets on pick-up days is still being considered.

The bins cost about $55 each. The city estimates 3,500 are needed for the pilot program, so the initial cost would be about $192,000.

The Solid Waste Task Force was scheduled to meet and discuss the proposals Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net