Plastics to be accepted again at recycling center

Fate of UARRC could be decided at town meeting
By Fran Gonzalez | Feb 24, 2020
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez The Unity Area Regional Recycling Center in Thorndike, shown Feb. 22, is accepting plastics numbered 1 through 7 again.

Thorndike — The Unity Area Regional Recycling Center announced last week that effective immediately, it is once again accepting plastics numbered 1 through 7. Rigid plastics found in items such as lawn furniture, buckets and toys, to name a few, along with glass items, are still not accepted.

When the UARRC stopped taking most plastics last year, many residents were not pleased. Water and fruit juice bottles, cooking oil containers, trays for sweets, plastic packing and food foils, among others, found their way to the kitchen trash barrel.

This added to the amount of household trash which in turn, cost residents more money when disposing of their waste at the transfer station.

UARRC Facility Manager Jeff Reynoldssaid the center had to stop taking plastics because there was no market for them  "We were getting charged to get rid of it," he said. "I don't know the per-ton amount, but we are going to get something for it (now).

Back when the facility stopped taking the plastics, Reynolds said, he was told that there was a new market opening up. "It finally opened up.”

The decision to accept more plastic comes at a time when member towns are becoming increasingly thrifty with their municipal dollars. One member town, Montville, will vote this spring at its annual town meeting on whether to withdraw from the UARRC contract.

Reynolds said he is concerned about this possibility, but hopes that since the facility is accepting more plastics now, the town will be persuaded to stay.

“If Montville pulls out,” he said, “this place most likely will close. It will come down to what they decide at town meeting.”

The UARRC is composed of eight member towns, including Dixmont, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Montville, Thorndike, Troy and Unity, with each paying a share of operating costs. Reynolds, the only full-time employee at the center, said he does not know if all the other member towns would be able to shoulder the operating expenses with one less town.

“It would be a significant jump to the other towns,” he said.

Earlier this year, UARRC directors told Montville selectmen a plastics buyer had been found and needed to guarantee a 10-bale minimum to make the deal work. Construction on a new garage door bay has started at the center, and this spring, a new 60-by-36-foot expansion gravel pad that will accommodate a 40-foot container will be constructed to store the additional plastics.

Reynolds said around 50 to 60 bags make up a bale and he is aiming to collect 15 bales to ship to the buyer. By collecting the plastics now, he said, the center will have a good amount of plastics to start filling the container by the time it is ready.

If Montville does pull out of the contract, Reynolds said, residents can still use the facility until Dec. 31 and after that, anyone wishing to bring their recyclables to the center can buy a non-member pass.

 

The new garage door is roughed-in at the Unity Area Regional Recycling Center Feb. 22. The door will open to a 40-foot container for plastics. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Jeff Reynolds, facility manager at UARRC says he is hopeful the recent changes at the center will convince the town of Montville to remain in the recycling center collaborative. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
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