Many of our readers will have noticed a brief item entitled “Waste Watch” on page six last week. You can find “Waste Watch” on page 1B this week.
“Waste Watch” is a new weekly column from the Nobleboro-Jefferson Transfer Station, which serves the towns of Bremen, Damariscotta, Jefferson, Newcastle, and Nobleboro.
Station Manager Barry Howell approached us with the idea for the column a couple weeks ago. We think it’s a great idea. The column contains reminders and tips about recycling, as well as facts about the value of recycling.
Recycling benefits everybody. It might be a hassle, but when we throw away recyclable items – cans, cardboard, glass, paper, plastic – we throw away money.
Transfer stations sell recyclable materials. We don’t know who wants our old milk cartons and spaghetti-sauce jars, but we’re glad they do. The income from these sales offsets the cost of station operations – a significant expense for small towns.
On the other hand, transfer stations have to pay someone to take their trash.
It’s simple math: as recycling – and income – goes up, the volume of trash – and expenses – goes down.
Many people would no sooner toss a returnable bottle into the trash than throw away a pocketful of change, yet think nothing of tossing an empty laundry-detergent jug into the trash.
It might be less direct and take a few more steps to realize, but that jug has a monetary value, just like a soda bottle.
Area towns have resisted the pay-as-you-throw model, which requires residents to pay a fee – perhaps $1 – for every bag of trash they throw away. But whether before or after, at the dump or at tax time, everybody pays, and those who don’t recycle shift the cost of the transfer station onto those who do.
These arguments are all aside from the environmental benefits of recycling.
The local solid-waste business has come a long way in 50 years, as “Damariscotta History” columnist Calvin Dodge pointed out last week. In the ’60s and ’70s, rats and sea gulls infested the dump on Standpipe Road in Damariscotta. The town would burn the trash daily and the smell would settle in various neighborhoods depending on the prevailing winds. The sea gulls would hang out on – and relieve themselves in – the standpipe itself, which holds the public water supply.
We have come a long way indeed, but there is still more we can do, and further progress will depend on buy-in from the entire community.