With changes about to happen to Penobscot Energy Recovery Company, and new players in the recycling industry, questions abound for selectmen, regional planners, budget committees and tax-paying trash-producing (recycling or not) citizens. The Board of Directors for the nine-town Unity Area Regional Recycling Center, charged by their towns’ Interlocal Agreement to serve as a Regional Solid Waste Committee, decided at a recent meeting that a thorough airing of questions and concerns by all players would be a healthy beginning to planning for the future. To that end, town officers and other residents from Waldo County and neighboring towns are invited to gather for an informal meeting at Mount View High School on Friday, April 15, at 7 p.m. The discussion will be moderated, and notes from the meeting will be distributed to those who want them. Refreshments will be served following the discussion.

When town dumps (land fills) were closed because of water and air pollution problems in the late 1980s and early 1990s, most towns quickly found that they had to join with other towns for trash disposal, because the only non-polluting or less polluting methods available were, and are very capital intensive — well beyond the ability of rural towns to develop on their own. That is still the case. In addition, recycling markets require volume for cost effectiveness, and again, towns have had to join together either by forming recycling regions or by contracting to use facilities in other areas. Knowing whether to form new regional facilities or to pay corporations for their services requires a lot of information.

Town officers are looking for ways to increase recycling now so when the PERC axe falls, there will be less trash to tip. A new player in the game called single sort, or single stream, recycling has recently been introduced to Waldo County and nearby towns. Some towns are opting to try this recycling system to see if it will increase recycling rates and be cheaper than joining regional multi-sort programs. Other towns with existing recycling programs wonder if they should consider adding single sort to their operations. Again, issues need to be analyzed and information gathered in order to make informed decisions. Few town officers or citizens have that sort of time.

The April 15 meeting is a chance for many to air their concerns, share information and explore options. A follow-up meeting based on the results of the April meeting is planned which will feature a panel of professionals who can give concrete examples, costs and logistics. The UARRC Board meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Recycling Center on Leonard Road in Thorndike. All meetings are open to the public. UARRC’s member towns currently are Unity, Troy, Thorndike, Dixmont, Freedom, Knox, Jackson, Montville and Brooks. For more information, call 948-7777 to reach the chairman of the UARRC Board, Clem Blakney.