The Star-Herald

Recycling has changed, but it’s still doable

I’d like to introduce myself as the solid waste director for Aroostook Waste Solutions, which is the new merged entity between Tri-Community Recycling and Sanitary Landfill and the City of Presque Isle.  I have served as solid waste director for TCL for 15 years, and am excited about the long-term benefits of this new venture.

The merger became effective just over a month ago, and I’d like to quickly review some of the changes and provide a brief update on how things are going.  

Probably the most obvious changes involve recycling.  The city’s curbside blue bag program has been replaced with an igloo drop-off venture.  TCL has utilized igloos for about 25 years, and AWS currently has 22 igloo locations in 18 different communities.  Three of those locations are now in Presque Isle: at City Hall; near the courthouse and at the landfill. Cardboard recycling Dumpsters are also located at each of those sites.  The igloos are color-coded and labeled.

The new igloos are already being robustly used, which is encouraging, and I want to thank everyone for the effort to recycle.  Please understand our program is limited to those materials that can be readily and economically marketed to an end user — a task which has become more difficult due to relatively recent changes in the global marketplace.  AWS strives to maintain as comprehensive a program as possible. Igloo users can assist us with that effort by depositing only those materials in the igloos as indicated. Other materials placed in or around the igloos will not be recycled, and the subsequent effort to remove those materials only increases the cost of the program and jeopardizes its future viability.  For more information regarding the location of the igloos, or the materials that are collected, please reference our website at www.aroostookwaste.com.

We’ve received some specific questions that I’ll try to address here.  

What about office paper?  Unfortunately, collection of office paper in igloos has poor results.  Moisture inevitably permeates the paper, which severely limits or eliminates its marketability. Office paper is accepted at no charge at the AWS recycling center in Fort Fairfield or can be delivered to Aroostook Shredding on Missile Street in Presque Isle for a fee.

What do I do with glass? Again, glass is very difficult to collect in an igloo due to breakage when emptying the igloo into the truck.  Recycling is generally not an option for glass, but it can be reused as a fill material, so it is accepted at no charge at the AWS recycling center in Fort Fairfield.   

Why can’t I recycle boxboard?  Boxboard, or paperboard, refers to material such as cereal or shoe boxes.  It is not the brown, layered, corrugated cardboard. Corrugated cardboard is readily recyclable and AWS has access to buyers of this material.  However, the inclusion of boxboard limits access to those markets, particularly given the new specifications following the recent global market changes.  Therefore, please refrain from placing boxboard in any igloos or in cardboard recycling Dumpsters, either residential or commercial.

Where do I take my old TV?  Old TVs, computer monitors, fluorescent lamps and other electronic items are “universal waste,” and may now be delivered to the Presque Isle Landfill.  As was the case previously, there are fees associated with the disposal of these items, which are listed on the AWS website. However, you do not need to purchase a landfill permit if you are only delivering universal waste to the landfill.  

What’s going to happen to the Presque Isle Recycling Center?  The Presque Isle Recycling Center is currently accepting only corrugated cardboard delivered by commercial haulers.  Upon completion of certain renovations at the AWS Recycling Center in Fort Fairfield, operations at the Recycling Center in Presque Isle will cease as part of the consolidation and cost-reduction effort.  Fortunately, AWS was awarded a grant in the amount of $676,000 to complete the renovations to the recycling center; to purchase a new, state-of-the-art, high efficiency baler; and to purchase the new igloos.  Since the grant was awarded to facilitate municipal collaboration, it would not have been possible without the merger.

On behalf of the AWS board of directors, I want to thank folks for their patience and understanding as we move through this transition.  As always, please call the Aroostook Waste Solutions office at 473-7840 with any questions.

Mark Draper is the director of Aroostook Waste Solutions. He can be reached at 473-7840 or via email at mark@aroostookwaste.com.

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