By Pam Harnden, Staff Writer
JAY — Students in the advanced placement environmental science class at Spruce Mountain High School are spreading information about recycling that could save local taxpayers thousands of dollars.
Instructor Rob Taylor said a recycling crisis is becoming a national issue. His students are helping to raise awareness locally.
“Things the town used to get money for are now costing money,” he said. “There is a big supply of recyclables and companies won’t pay for contaminated recyclables. They want them pristine.”
Jay Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said, “Everybody needs a refresher on how to recycle. It’s great that Rob Taylor’s group is helping. This is a real-world issue that will have impacts for everyone.”
Student Parker Beaulieu said not all plastics can be recycled. Those that can be recycled have a number from 1 to 7 on the container.
Beaulieu used an app, ecomaine Recyclopedia, that has a comprehensive list of items and how to dispose of them, to identify items that can be recycled. The app is free and available at Google Play or the App Store. The website http://www.ecomaine.org/recyclopedia/ has additional information on recycling.
Using the app, Beaulieu showed that full or partially full aerosol cans aren’t recyclable. Empty cans are.
“Cardboard with a wax or metal coating is not recyclable. Anything with dirt or grease (such as pizza boxes) should be thrown in the trash,” he said.
Beaulieu said all paper can be recycled but problems arise when stored in plastic bags.
“Plastic bags can’t be recycled. The attendants can’t see what’s inside a dark bag. By using clear bags, they can see the paper and remove just the bag,” he said.
Beaulieu said some items should be reused. Yarn, clothing and other items no longer needed can be donated to Goodwill.
“Crisco cans are a weird situation. The plastic cover and metal bottom can be removed, washed and recycled. The cardboard should be trashed,” he said.
Student Lauren Cornelio provided information on waste disposal for the town.
“Jay budgets $59.75 per ton for trash. Two-thousand tons annually costs about $120,000 per year. Jay pays $15 per ton for recycled materials. Three-hundred tons of materials per year equals $4,500,” Cornelio said.
Student Madison Lecowitch said contamination can have a huge impact on Jay and its taxpayers.
“Whenever there is 5 percent or more contamination, the town is charged $40 more per ton. That’s $12,000 extra per year.
“If the contamination is 10 percent or more, the extra charge is $70.50 per ton or $21,150 more,” Lecowitch said.
“It has to come from taxes,” Beaulieu said.
“It’s extra money that wasn’t budgeted. We have to find it,” Taylor said.
“Recycling companies once paid us. Now we have to pay them,” Cornelio said.
Taylor said the cost for recyclables with 5 percent contamination is virtually the same as that for trash.
“The town crew recently went through a load of recyclables picked up by Archie’s” transport service in Mexico. “We’re right on that threshold,” Taylor said.
“We want people to recycle as much as possible, but do it right. We’re trying to get the information out there, ” Taylor said.
“When in doubt, throw it out,” Cornelio said.